Present Perfect Tense | Simple or Continuous? | FOR & SINCE ?

Present Perfect Tense | Simple or Continuous? | FOR & SINCE ?

Hello I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! A couple of weeks ago, I created a lesson about the present perfect tense. What it looks like, how to use it and all of that good stuff! I talked about when to use the present perfect simple tense and when to use the past simple tense. Now if you missed it, you can check it out right here. But after watching that lesson, many of you asked me “So when do we use the present perfect simple tense and when do we use the present perfect continuous tense?” A lot of you also asked, “So when do you use these words ‘since’ and ‘for’?” Now, both of these questions are really important questions when you’re using the present perfect tense in English. So, in this video I’m going to answer both of those questions. This channel is all about speaking and communicating confidently in English and I know that fixing some of these common grammar errors is an important part of helping you to feel confident when you’re using English so that when you do speak, you can express yourself clearly and automatically. So let’s start by talking about the present perfect simple tense and the present perfect continuous tense. They have eaten the pizza. So this is the present perfect simple tense. We have the auxiliary verb, have, with our main verb in past participle form. They have been eating the pizza. Now this is the present perfect continuous tense. We still have the auxiliary verb, have, but now we have the word, been, and our main verb in a continuous or progressive form. So when you compare these two sentences, the main difference is that the first one tells us that the action finished in the past, there is no more pizza, now in the present. The second sentence – the present perfect continuous tense – suggests that there is still pizza left now. They haven’t eaten all of the pizza yet. We can use either of these tenses to talk about events that happened in the past but they’re somehow connected to the present. She has borrowed our car. So this is an action that happened in the past but it’s important to the present because we don’t have a car right now. We’re focused on the result when we’re using the present perfect simple. She’s been borrowing our car every Thursday. Now, this sentence suggests that the action is still happening. So next Thursday, she’ll probably borrow the car again. So here, our focus is on the action. The action is unfinished. Now the present perfect continuous is your best choice when the focus is on an activity that is unfinished. So let’s compare another example. I’ve searched the internet for more information . Now this sentence suggests that you’re not searching anymore. The action finished in the past but it’s important to the present because right now, in this moment, we don’t have the information. I’ve been searching the internet for more information. This sentence suggests that you’re still doing it, you haven’t given up yet and you’re still looking for the information now. Let’s try another example. We’ve written an essay about climate change. The action here is finished. It’s in the past, we’ve already completed it. So you can also say we wrote an essay about climate change using the past simple but to connect it to the present and make it important to the present you need to use the present perfect tense. Think about if you were with a group of scientists and you wanted to demonstrate to them or show them that you were knowledgeable about the topic of climate change. You can connect your past experience to the present using the present perfect tense. Writing the essay is part of your life
experience now. We’ve been writing an essay about climate change suggests that you’re still doing it. The essay is not finished yet, you’re still working on it at the moment, in the present. I have been studying Spanish. This is an unfinished action – I’m still doing it. The continuous form makes it clear that the action is still happening. I’m still studying in this moment. I have studied French. By using the present perfect tense here, it suggests that the action happened regularly in the past, but that it doesn’t happen in the moment. But by using this tense – not the past simple tense – I’m suggesting that somehow it’s meaningful or relevant to the present. Like, I know a little French. I’m not studying it at the moment but I know a little. Okay this last example is a little more difficult to explain and understand. There are a few verbs in English like the verb, live and work, where the difference between the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous is less clear. But I’m going to try and explain it for you now. I’ve lived here for five years. I’m from Melbourne originally, but I’ve been living here for five years. So both of these sentences use the adverb, for, to give us more information about how long the action has been happening for, the duration of time. But to understand the difference, we need to think about these examples in slightly different ways. The present perfect simple, I have lived suggests that the action is a permanent thing. The present perfect continuous often tells us that the action is a more temporary thing. It’s not as permanent. It suggests that I might live somewhere else, in the future. Okay, how do you feel about the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous tenses now? Hopefully a little clearer! Now, we’re going to focus on those two adverbs that you can use with these tenses. Now there’s quite a few adverbs that you can use with the present perfect tenses like already, yet, before just ever never But in this lesson, we’re going to focus on for and since. Both of these words are used with the present perfect tenses and the past perfect tenses. And both of these words explain how long something has been happening for, it’s a duration of time. So when you’re using the present perfect tense and you want to give more information about the amount of time that the action’s been happening for, you can use the words “for” and “since”. Now it’s important to remember that the word “since” can only be used with the perfect tenses but the word “for”, can be used in other tenses as well when you want to give more information about the time it took to do something. So these two important words can be easily confused, in the present perfect. Using the wrong one is a very common mistake for English learners. We use the word “for” with a period of time, Okay so like, three days,
this is a period of time. So I want to show you on a timeline how this works. This is today. This is Sunday. And this point in our timeline is Thursday. This is when the action happened or it started happening. So the focus is on this period of time, here. For periods of time, we need to use “for”. For three days. For three months. For an hour. For two and a half years. For a long time. Even though we’re not talking about a specific amount of time, this reference refers to a period of time, a long period of time. So we still need to use “for”. Now let’s add this to some of the examples in the present perfect structure. We have lived in London for six years. He has borrowed my car for three days. They’ve been waiting for an hour. Now, you need to use “since” with a specific moment in the past – with a specific point in time. So let’s go back to our timeline to talk about it. So today’s Sunday, here we are on Sunday and this is the point when the action happened or it started happening. This point is Thursday so we can say that we’ve been doing the action since Thursday. So the focus is on the point in time when the action happened or it began. So, since I lived in Brazil. Or since 3 o’clock. Since 1992. Since last week. So let’s add “since” to the present perfect structure. I have lived here since I was a child. I’ve been working here since April. They’ve been waiting since 9:00 a.m. I’ve had these pens since I was at school! I’ve been expecting the parcel since last Tuesday! These structures with “for” and since are really useful when answering questions that start with “how long” How long have you been travelling? I’ve been travelling since June. I’ve been travelling for 3 months. So make sure that you’re always listening for the clues in a question, like this, how long, if someone’s asking how long, then you can use these words “for” and “since” to give your answers in the present perfect. Well that’s it for this lesson! Even though the present perfect tenses can be frustrating at times, be patient while you’re perfecting
it. Don’t just use the past simple tense because it’s easier. I want you to really take the time to practice the present perfect, because it allows you to be so much more expressive with your English. And the more often that you do it, the more naturally it will come to you. So make sure that you subscribe to this channel right here, I make new lessons every week. To keep practising with the present perfect tenses, watch this playlist here because I’ve been making a few lessons about the present perfect recently. But you can also explore other lessons, right here. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you in the next lesson here on the mmmEnglish YouTube channel. Bye for now!


  1. Your beautiful pronunciation and techniques helps me catch up easily your topics because you are a good teacher you explain it well .makes me interested watching all your videos, beautiful maiden emma.

  2. Thank you very much Emma. (simple present). Now, I think I can write both simple and continuous sentences on my own after watching your video. Until next time and stay blessed.

  3. Present perfect simple but how is it connected or has sth to do with the present once the action has finished in the past ?

  4. i didn 't really understand how from the past to connect to the present can you make another video to explain a bit better please???

  5. Hi dear Emma . I can't thank you enough for all you have done for us . You're the super star in the earth. God bless you.

  6. And when I have 3 tenses?
    Present perfect continuous vs Present Perfect vs Past simple? how do i difference them?

  7. really i understand everything, thank you Emma. I am so happy with you. please continue. you are the best teacher, that i see until now

  8. emma this teaching was perfect. I understood it fully. I have been watching your video since one month ago. I enjoy your speaking

  9. what is the correct tense here>>how long …………..this problem? . (have you had or have you been having )and why >>thanks for your videos

  10. Those are the lesson I need to practice and It´s too useful the way you explain the structure. Thanks a lot, teacher! Maybe I´m not watching all your videos in the correct order but they´re so interesting.

  11. Thank you my teacher for your explaination i'm so happy to understand and communicate in english this is my big aim

  12. Your videos are great. I wish I had found your channel much earlier! At the moment I am learning for an exam in English and some of your videos have been helping me a lot already. Thanks for that Emma 🙂

  13. Can native English speakers explain the perfect tenses as clearly as you do? I like the examples and explanations you provided in the video, and I have shared it to my friends who are interested in English learning. Thank you so much. You are an amazing teacher.

  14. If someone interrupts me when i am working on my computer, and says '' Hey what r u doing?''

    Can i reply him/her like '' Nothing, i have just been working on my paper all day''.

    Also can we use allday, thesedays, recently, lately in Present Perfect Cont?

  15. But Present Continuous tense and Present perfect continuous confuse me. Please explian where to use this two.

  16. thanks so much, in the nex week, i have test… a quiestion, the book "smart choice" 1;2;3 ect…what do you think? is good?

  17. thank you Emma i hope you continue forever ? i found your videos yesterday in suggestions and now i've watched the fifth video … i've been improving well .. don't stop ?❤️️

  18. Thank you teacher …, teacher can you teach how to you past perfect & past prefect continues , future prefect & future prefect continues tenses ?

  19. Всё отлично, но опять нет перевода на русском. Делайте ПЕРЕВОД К ПРЕДЛОЖЕНИЯМ. У вас будет больше подписчиков и лайков.

  20. Why i've seen a lot of sentences that they put been even in present perfect simple and the verb is in ed past participle form instead of with ing..thats why i am very confused if where do i use been

  21. hello Emma.
    thanks for your kindness and super lessons, I have a question, in simple past time is specific but in simple perfect time is unrefined than we use( for ) in simple perfect with a defined time ? what is the difference?

  22. I´m afraid Emma, but I do not know if I hear your voice or to see your beatiful eyes!
    Thanks for helping me with your tutorials are really helpful

  23. But can't I use the present continuous instead of present perfect continuous? Why should I Say "I've been eating pizza" and not "I am eating pizza"?

  24. Hi Emma you confuse me you said in the last video (present perfect )we use it when the time is in finished and you Said the same thing for present perfect continuous

  25. Thank you for your good lecture.I have a question. "I've lived here for 5 years." In this sentence, little bit confused me.  does 'subject' live here now? i mean this action isn't finished yet? you saying is "permanent"

  26. Hello Ema thank you for the explanation, but I have a question
    Why in the exemple you said "I've had these pens since I was at school" why you didn't use the present perfect continuous. I have this question because i think the exemple means that you still have the pens
    And I will thankful if you could answer my question ?

  27. Wtat time do we use,Present Perfect or Past Simple in a situation like,for ex.,when a bus just left a busstop,do we say "a bus left" or "a bus has left"?

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