For example:

It's 9:00 p.m and at 7 p.m the electricity went off.

Which tense is correct and what is the difference in meaning between these tenses?

The electricity has been going off for 2 hours.

The electricity has been off for 2 hours.

Thank you.

  • 1
    Although I have "flagged" this question to ask if the moderators will migrate it to ELL, they won't necessarily take any notice of my one voice. But if you ask for it to be migrated, I'm sure they will act. I think you will find ELL more helpful if you have any further questions. Nov 15, 2015 at 18:16
  • And another idiomatic way to say it is, “The power’s been out for 2 hours.”
    – Jim
    Nov 16, 2015 at 6:09
  • There are many ways. I'd prefer saying: "There is no power/electricity for past two hours."
    – Maulik V
    Nov 16, 2015 at 10:53
  • 1
    That's ungrammatical, though.
    – user230
    Nov 16, 2015 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


Both wordings are correct ways of describing different things.

Normally, "has been going off" would be used with the implication "has been going off and on"—meaning "has been on and off intermittently" during the specified time period. In fact, the full expression, "has been going off and on," is quite a bit more common than the shortened but implied form "has been going off [and on]" as a way of describing multiple interruptions in normal service.

In contrast, "has been off" indicates simply an uninterrupted period of being off: there has been no electricity (in this case) for the past two hours.

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