How do we choose between the present perfect continuous and the present perfect?
Any continuous tense shows us that the action has been going on for some time and its lasting is important. The present perfect continuous tells us how long the action has been continuing.
The present perfect focuses on the result of the action or tells us how many times the action has happened so far.
Jenny is wet and exhausted. She has been running. → the continuing process is important
Jenny has run 10 kilometres today. → the result is important
Table of examples
|Present perfect continuous highlights the process||Present perfect highlights the result|
|What's wrong with your phone? I have been trying to call you since morning!
||I have never tried salted caramel. Is it tasty?
|I have been looking for Fred since lunch, where could he be?
||I have looked everywhere, but I can't find my watch.
|What have you been doing since you retired?
||What have you done to the printer? It's not working.
|I have been eating too much chocolate recently. I should stop.
||Who has eaten the whole chocolate bar?
|We have been playing football for an hour.
||We have played football twice this week.
|How long have you been learning Spanish?
||I've been learning Spanish for two months, but I haven't learnt much yet.
Keep in mind that we don't use stative verbs in the continuous tense.
You can also learn more about the use of the present perfect continuous and the present perfect.