I want to know the actual meaning of been and where I can use this word. Now I have some questions:

  1. If someone asks me where my brother is, then if I say "he has been sleeping" it means he is still sleeping or something else?

  2. The road is closed. "There has been an accident" means the accident happened in past and/or that accident happened just a few minutes ago?

  3. If I say, "I have lived in USA for 20 years", does that mean I am still living there or have I moved to another place? And if I say, I have lived in USA then what does this mean?

  • Hi, just a few things: 1) Please change your title, and ask a specific question about the grammar you are not sure about. 2) I don't really know what you're asking - even after cleaning up the grammar in your question. Could you maybe use just 1 example and explain: what you know so far, and what you don't understand?
    – 13509
    Jun 3, 2016 at 14:21
  • Your 3 examples are about the use of present perfect, you should clarify this both in the title and in the message.
    – Azami
    Jun 3, 2016 at 14:35
  • @JamesWirth I think this question is actually quite good with the amount of detail, even though there are some grammar mistakes. All of the examples have a question about what the example might mean, and the confusion is about the timing of the events (it's a very common problem with present-perfect). I think that we are the ones that need to write the titles - it's really difficult for someone who isn't fluent in English to summarize the key points of their question. Heck, it's hard for me to write titles for some of my questions on SE even though I'm a native speaker.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 3, 2016 at 15:33
  • Related post that might be helpful: Canonical Post #2: What is the perfect, and how should I use it?
    – ColleenV
    Jun 3, 2016 at 15:37
  • @ColleenV After stepping back a bit, I could start to see what he was getting at. Sorry for being a bit harsh at first :/
    – 13509
    Jun 3, 2016 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


been is the past participle of be, and can thus be used with present perfect.

Present perfect

The present perfect is "have + past participle". It is mostly used for:

  • An action that started in the past and is still continuing
  • An action that occured in the past and has consequences in the present

Your questions


Where is your brother?

He has been sleeping.

Means he started sleeping earlier, and still is.


The road is closed. There has been an accident.

Means that an accident occured earlier, therefore the road is closed.


I have lived in the USA for 20 years.

Means you started living in the USA 20 years ago, and still are.

Please see: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfect.html.

  • I like this answer :) Also note the past perfect continuous could be used in 3) e.g. "I have been living in the USA for 20 years"
    – 13509
    Jun 3, 2016 at 15:24
  • Indeed, I didn't want to expand on the continuous present perfect, but it is very welcome for actions that last some time. For example, I would prefer I've been working to I've worked in almost every single case.
    – Azami
    Jun 3, 2016 at 15:26
  • 1
    Actually, it doesn't necessarily mean he's still sleeping. "Where's your brother?" "He's been sleeping, but I think I just heard him banging around in the kitchen"
    – MMacD
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:17

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