I'm working on a text that includes the following phrase:

During the previous years he has been working...

Cannot pinpoint exactly which part of it, and why, but somehow it feels wrong to me.

Is there a more comfortable-sounding alternative?

Have thought of: "Over the past few years..." (but what if it's been, say, the last 10 years); "Over previous years..." (but he could no longer be doing it now); "During past years..." (again this possibility of 'once, but no longer'), "During the past few years..." (see the first example).

Any assistance would be appreciated.

2 Answers 2


The use of the present perfect continuous construction, "he has been working", implies an activity that started in the past and continues in the present.

The use of "during the previous years" implies an activity that started in the (more-distant) past and finished in the (less-distant) past, since by specifying "previous" you exclude the current year.

The combination of the two is therefore contradictory, which is probably the source of your discomfort.

Some alternatives:

For some years now he has been working...

For several years he has been working...

In the last few years he has been working...

In recent years he has been working....

You can adjust these depending on the actual number of years if you need to ("for a few years", "for several years", "for many years", "for the last decade", etc.).


"He has been" and "In the past few years" is redundant. Either drop the years phrase or add a smaller version of it on to "He has been working", like "He has worked for company X for the last 5 years." Even better, use a specific year, i.e. "Since 2012 he has worked for company X on project Y"

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