Friday, March 20, 2009

Present Perfect Continuous Tense: :Frequently Asked Questions

What is the verb-form of Present Perfect Continuous Tense?

Present Perfect Continuous is a hybrid tense in a way . It is a combination of Present Perfect and Present Continuous . Hence its verb-form is :have(has) +been + -ing form of the main verb Note that it has two auxiliaries.

Which of these two auxiliaries agrees with the subject?

There are tenses in English requiring two or more auxiliaries No matter how many auxiliaries there are in the verb_-form the first auxiliary (operator) always agrees with the subject in number and person .

What is the context in which Present Perfect Continuous is used?

* the action took place some time ago

* the action is still continuing at the time of speaking
* there is continuity in the action ,that is to say ,the action is an uninterrupted one
* the action is likely to continue

Present Perfect Continuous can be used only if all these elements are present Example:

It has been raining for three hours

The rain started three hours ago.It is still continuing. Itis a continuous rain .The rain will probably continue. Remember that the emphasis is on the continuity of the action and not on its duration or effect.

Can Present Perfect Continuous be used in any other contexts?

Yes! Sometimes this tense can be used to express the result of an action that is over now but was continuing for some time Prepositions since and for are not necessary in this context Examples:

My eyes ache . I have been reading for the exam

Do I look tired? I have been digging in the garden

In these sentences the emphasis is on the result of the action and not on its continuity

Can we use the stative verb be in this tense?

No! As be is a stative verb it does not take continuous form . English has to make do with Present Perfect in such contexts . Examples:

He has been our President for the last two years

She has been kind to me all these years

How can we ask questions using Present Perfect Continuous?

If it is a yes/no question the purpose of the questioner is to get confirmation of what he already knows. Example:

Have you been working in this company for ten years?

The structure of yes/no question follows the usual pattern -:auxiliary+subject+been+ ing-form of main verb+............. If an information question (Wh-question) is to be asked we have to use the question phrase-how long? Example:

How long has Dr.Manmohan Singh been serving as the Prime Minister of India ?

Dear readers, I will continue the discussion in my next post

Thank you

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