I'd like to ask about the perfect tense.
If you want to talk about the action which began in the past and is still continuing,
you will use the present perfect continuous. However, sometimes the present perfect simple seems to be used for the same situation.

Would you take a look at the following sentences?
1) It has been raining hard since last night.
2) It has rained hard since last night.
Instead of 1) do you use 2)?

Here is another sentence.
3) Mary was angry because she had waited for Jim for 2 hours.
Does 3) make sense? Or should I express like 4)?

4) Mary was angry because she had been waiting for Jim for 2 hours.

Could I have some comment?
Thank you.
Original Post
Sentence 1 means that it's still raining hard.

Sentence 2 could mean the same thing but it would not highlight the duration of the action. It could also mean that it rained hard for a certain period of time in the interval between "last night" and the moment of speaking, but that it is not necessarily still raining. For example, one could say

"” It has rained hard three times since last night

Sentence 3 could mean that Mary was still waiting, but it could also mean that the waiting was over. The past perfect treats the waiting period as a compressed, not extended, period of time.

Sentence 4 portrays the waiting period as long and drawn-out, and makes it clear that Mary was still waiting, at least until that very instant.

Marilyn Martin
Please take a look at the following sentence.
(1) Hey, you're late. We've been waiting for half an hour.

Clearly, the person came, so they are no longer waiting.
The waiting period finished at the moment the person arrived.
Do you still use "have been waiting" instead of "have waited"?
I think I would, but I'm not sure of the difference.

When a speaker wishes to call attention to the long duration of the waiting, rather than to its completion, the speaker uses the present perfect continuous. Mary obviously wants to impress the other person with the length of her wait, so she opts for the continuous rather than the simple.

More examples:

"” Aren't you through making your phone calls? You've been talking on the phone for two hours!

"” The union has been negotiating with the company for almost a year, but they're still far from agreement

You can always use the present perfect simple, but it doesn't have the same effect.

Marilyn Martin

Thank you for your kind help last time.
I understand there are cases where an action which began in the past and is still continuing or has only just finished can be expressed by both the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous. I know the state verbs cannot be used for the progressive form. Then, is that true for every verb except the state verbs ?
Or do only some verbs work that way? If so, what verbs besides " rain" and " wait" do work like that? Are there specific verbs for that?

I'll be happy to know more.
Thank you.
If the action or activity is still in effect, the present perfect continuous is used, as we know. The present perfect continuous is also used when the speaker wants to call attention to the long duration of the action, even if the action or activity is no longer in progress.

Many verbs can be used for this purpose. It's very hard to find Google examples of the present perfect continuous in which it's clear that the activity is no longer in effect, but here are a few:

"” Yet, despite all this, public and private policy makers seem obsessed with putting up new buildings, often at the expense of those that have been standing for many years.

"” Today he finally opened up to me and told me what he's been hiding all this time.

"” She just couldn't bring herself to say something along the lines of, "The game's up! What I've been saying all these years is no good any more".

"” Once, she had prided herself on speaking bluntly, honestly to her daughter. Only recently has she admitted that she's been lying all along.

In a past context we can see the same principle of emphasizing duration with the past continuous instead of the simple past:

"” Her presentation [about the new law] was merely the icing on the cake. Johnny had been diligently pushing for this legislation for about a year and his efforts clearly paid off.

Marilyn Martin

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.