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Present continuous/present perfect - Can you identify the difference?

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Tenses are an important aspect of English grammar as they tell us about time. Different tenses depict different time periods for example Past tense tells us about the time that has passed, Present about the current time and Future about the time that is still to come.. When referring to the past and present, there are two simple tenses and six complex tenses. When referring to the future, there are four modal tenses, which sums up to a total of 12 tenses in the active voice.

Today, let’s focus on Present Continuous and Present Perfect tense as they tend to create a lot of confusion.

Present Continuous

Present continuous


The Present Continuous tense is formed by the combination of the Present tense of the verb ‘be’ and the present participle (-ing form) of a verb. We use Present Continuous tense under following circumstances:

1. For something that is happening at the moment of speaking

Examples:
. I am leaving from office now.
. Neha is eating Maggi as she is hungry.

2. To say something which is happening before and after a given time

Examples:
. We are usually having dinner at 8 pm.
. When I reach home mummy is generally cooking.

3. To show that something is changing, growing or developing

Examples:
. Rina, your English is improving.
. The humidity is increasing day by day.

4. We use the Present Continuous tense to talk about the future for something which has been arranged or planned:

Examples:
. Hey Riaan what are you doing next week?
. Meena is going to new college next year.

5. To talk about the past when we are telling a story or summarizing the story from a book and a play etc.

Present Perfect

Present Perfect


The Present Perfect is formed from the Present tense of the verb ‘have’/ 'has' and the past participle of a verb. We use Present Perfect tense under following circumstances:

1. To say something that started in the past and continues in the present:

Examples:
. Meena and Karan have been married for nearly twenty years.
. He has lived in London all his life.

2. To say something which we have done several times in the past and continue to do:

Examples:
.I have seen this movie ten times.

.We have stayed in this hotel many times.

3. When the time period referred to has not finished:

Examples:
. It has rained a lot this year.

. I have worked hard this week

4. We use present perfect of ‘be’ when someone has gone to a place and returned and in same manner when someone has not returned we use have/has gone:

Examples:
. Where have you been?
. He's gone to Delhi for a month.

The above rules will guide you with the proper usage of Present Continuous/Present Perfect. Tenses are the base for fluent English speaking. Make yours stronger with the help of online English training course to help better your understanding of the English language.

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