A mother and a daughter are talking about studies.

Then the mother says that the daughter has just got well in the exams because this:

"But that's only because I have always pushed you to do something." (Sentence 1)

The year is not finished yet and the daughter is still on school.

If the important action is pushing the girl to do her homework, why not use:

"But that's only because I have always been pushing you to do something." (Sentence 2)

Does the word always create a continuous sense?

What are the differences in sense between the two sentences?


It is probably true that the mother is still pushing the daughter to do her homework.

However, the mother's pushing the daughter now does not provide a reason for the daughter's having done well on a past exam. That can only be attributed to pushing in the past. Consequently, the perfect is in order here.

Note that this is an experiential perfect, not a resultative perfect—it characterizes the pushing as an element in the mother and daughter's current shared experience. The resultative burden is carried by the preposition because, and in a formal argument this would call for a simple past or past perfect (and in fact, most US speakers would probably employ a simple past here: "You got an A because I always pushed you."). But that sort of precision is unnecessary in colloquial contexts; in the context of a present or perfect in the main clause the present perfect maintains temporal harmony between the two clauses—"You've {got / gotten} an A because I've always pushed you."

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Present perfect simple and present perfect continuous

  1. We use the present perfect continuous form for an action in progress and, the simple form for a completed action.

I've been learning Russian, but I can't speak it well.

I've learnt a new piece on the piano. I can play it now.

  1. We use the continuous form for something which has been happening recently and repeatedly:

I haven't been doing my homework this term.

But we use the simple form for one occasion or an exact number of occasions:

I haven't done my project/my last three projects.

  1. We can use the simple or continuous form with for or since to say how long a current action has been in progress. The continuous form is more frequent:

I've been waiting/I've waited for hours!

Since always it's used for repeated actions (you can also use it for the present simple), you use the continuous form.

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You usually use the present perfect for recent actions that have results in the present. In light of this description and the answer of our respectable teacher, StoneyB, I think the use of the present perfect in the sentence under discussion is more appropriate. As Americans also use the past simple in this situation, you can use either the past simple or the present perfect in this sentence.

As for the present perfect continuous, it indicates an ongoing action; the action that started in the past and still continues in the present.

As the mother's action (pushing her daughter) is an ongoing action, the use of the present perfect continuous is also correct grammatically.

Besides, you can sometimes use the present perfect continuous to replace the present perfect to imply a recently completed action in addition to its normal sense of an ongoing action. Please look at the following sentences:

He said, "Why are you so wet". "I have been swimming", she replied.

The sentence " I have been swimming" indicates the action recently completed.

So you can say "But that's because I have pushed you/have been pushing you to do something".

The adverb always is used to imply at all times, repeatedly, continually, etc. Its use in a sentence doesn't mean that the sentence is in the continuous form.

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