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The Perfect Progressive Tenses



This
is the last in our four-part series on verb tenses. Make sure you see our episodes
on progressive and perfect tenses before trying to learn the perfect progressive tenses.



For
English learners, the perfect progressive tenses can be scary.



But
they are more straightforward than you might think.



When
you talk about grammar, perfect means complete, and progressive
means unfinished.



Perfect
progressive sentences focus on the completion of an action that is, was
or will be in progress.



Think
about this sentence in the past perfect progressive:



I
had been waiting for three years by the time my application was approved. In
this example, the emphasis is on duration of the first verb waiting.



Perfect
progressive tenses often answer the question how long? There are three perfect
progressive tenses: the present perfect progressive, the past perfect
progressive
, and the future perfect progressive.

















 



Past Perfect Progressive



Present Perfect Progressive



Future Perfect Progressive



PERFECT PROGRESSIVE

TENSES



It had been snowing for two days before it stopped.


Had been + -ing verb + for/since



It has been snowing all month long.


Has/have + -ing verb + for/since



It will have been snowing for three days by the time it stops.


Will have been + -ing verb + for/since


 




Present
Perfect Progressive



Lets
start with the present perfect progressive. You form the present perfect progressive
by using have been (or has been) followed by an ing
verb.



For
instance, She has been sitting in class since early this morning. The action,
sitting
, is continuing. But the emphasis is on the completed part of the action.
Here are some more examples:



I have been waiting
for 20 minutes.

I have been studying since I was a child.

It has been snowing all day long.



In all
of these sentences, the emphasis is on how the finished activity relates to the
present.



A time
reference is not required to use the present perfect progressive. Sometimes we use
it to refer to recently completed actions.



Imagine
your friend comes to your house with red, puffy eyes. You might say, Your
eyes are red. Have you been crying?



Or you
notice that a co-worker is looking tanned. You might ask, You look tanned.
Have you have been sunbathing?



Remember
that stative verbs cannot be used in any progressive tense. A stative verb
describes unchanging situations, often mental states such as realize,
appear 
and seem.



You
should not say, Ive been knowing you for a long time. If you have a stative verb,
use the present perfect: I have known you for a long time.



Almost
all native speakers will contract, or shorten the pronoun that comes before
have or has. I have been will sound like, Ive been.



Expert
grammarian and teacher Betty Azar tells English learners: Dont expect
slow, careful pronunciation of helping verbs in normal conversation.



Past
Perfect Progressive



Let
us move on to the past perfect progressive. The past perfect progressive emphasizes
the duration of a past action before another action happened.



For
example, I had been smoking for 10 years before I quit.



You
form the past perfect progressive by using had been followed by an ing
verb.



Notice
how the past perfect progressive often includes the adverbs for and
since
to express duration. You will also see the adverbs before, when or
by the time used to introduce a second action.



The
second action uses the simple past tense. Here are some more examples:



I had been studying
for 12 years by the time I graduated from high school.

She had been living there since she was a child.

He had been teaching for 12 years before he was certified.



The
past perfect progressive can also describe a recently completed action. For instance:



My clothes were wet because
it had been raining.

He was talking loudly because he had been drinking.



Future
Perfect Progressive



We
will end with the future perfect progressive. The future perfect progressive describes
the duration of an action as it relates to a future event.



There
are two ways to form the future perfect progressive. Both require two actions. One
is by using will have been plus a present participle, followed by when
or by the time and the second action.



For
example, I will have been working for 35 years by the time I retire. Notice
that the second planned action, retire, is in the simple present. The simple
future is never used with the second action.



The
other way to form the future perfect progressive is using be going to have
been plus a present participle followed by when or by the time and the second
action. The order of the actions can be reversed with either form.



For
example, By the time the plane arrives, I am going to have been waiting for five
hours.



With
the future perfect progressive, it is not always clear if the ing verb
started in the past or will start in the future. For example, The doctor will have
been working for 24 hours by the time his shift is finished.



The
future perfect progressive is rare because it is difficult to know the duration
of an activity relative to another future event.



And
those are the three perfect progressive tenses in English.



We have
been talking about verb tenses for several weeks now. It is time to move on to other
topics. We leave you with a present perfect progressive song by the music band
"Foreigner."



"Ive been waiting
for a girl like you

To come into my life"



 



 





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