present perfect progressive (verb tense)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

The pattern for forming the present perfect progressive tense in English.


A verb construction (made up of has been or have been plus the present participle) that emphasizes the ongoing nature of an action that began in the past and continues in the present. (The decision to use has been or have been is determined by agreement with the subject.)

The present perfect progressive tense usually conveys the meaning of recently or lately. The action reported by the present perfect progressive may or may not have been completed.


See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

Examples and Observations:

  • "Try to understand how hard he has been trying to make everything better for his family."
    (Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun, 1959)
  • "l have been painting with a palette knife because I don't like to wash the brushes."
    (Flannery O'Connor, summer 1953. The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor, 1979)
  • "I have been waiting. I have been searching. I am a man under the moon, walking the streets of earth until dawn. There's got to be someone for me."
    (Henry Rollins, Solipsist, 1998)
  • "The ocean has been singing to me, and the song is that of our life together."
    (Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle, 1999)
  • "[Even Jerry] Garcia might have been surprised by how many scholars have been studying the cultural furniture in the Grateful Dead outback."
    (Nicholas G. Meriwether, Studying the Dead. Scarecrow, 2013)
  • "My friends and I are a little worried because Stacey hasn't been feeling too great lately. But she seems to be coping."
    (Ann M. Martin, The Baby-Sitters Club: Poor Mallory. Scholastic, 2014)
  • The Present Perfect and the Present Perfect Progressive
    "The present perfect progressive and present perfect are sometimes essentially interchangeable. The main difference may be that the present perfect progressive, which includes the progressive aspect, confers a sense of ongoingness. Thus, (60a), with the activity verb work in the present perfect progressive, and (60b), with work in the present perfect, have essentially the same meaning, although in (60a) the activity seems more continuous and ongoing,
    (60) a. He has been working with our company for over 20 years.
    (60) b. He has worked with our company for over 20 years.
    Often, however, the two tenses are not interchangeable. Consider the sentences in (61), in which the for prepositional phrase of duration in (60) has been omitted.
    (61) a. He has been working with our company.
    (61) b. He has worked with our company.
    Sentence (61a), with the present perfect progressive, still has the sense of the work continuing to the present; however, in (61b), with the present perfect, the work occurred at some time or times in the past."
    (Ron Cowan, The Teacher's Grammar of English: A Course Book and Reference Guide. Cambridge University Press, 2008)

    Also Known As: present perfect continuous