Grammar-QuizzesVerb PhrasesVerb GroupsPresent Perfect › Duration vs. Repetition

Present Perfect: Duration vs. Repetition

Express a continuing vs. a recurring activity

Construction workers on the tower of Pisa
 

 

Continuing vs. Recurring Activity

DURATION

A verb in the present perfect expresses that an activity, event or state has duration. The activity went on for some time in the past and continued or continues up to the very recent past or present.                                                                        

From past to present

Engineers have worked to save the Tower of Pisa!  (unspecified past)

Engineers have studied the foundation since 1817.  (unspecified past)

Engineers have applied steel braces.  (unspecified past)

Engineers have stabilized the foundation.  (unspecified past)

REPETITION

A verb in the present perfect progressive expresses that an activity, event or state has duration or repetition; it started in the past and went on either continuously (without stopping) or repetitively (again and again) up to the present.

past time line

Engineers have been working to save the Tower of Pisa!

Engineers have been studying the foundation since 1817.

Engineers have been applying steel braces for several months.

Engineers have been stabilizing the foundation since 1838.

 

Reoccur and recur are verbs that share a common root word. They are very close in meaning, but they are not the same. Something that is recurring happens over and over again, possibly at regular intervals. In contrast, something that is reoccurring is simply happening again but not always repeatedly.

 

 

 

 

Present Perfect Adverbs (time expressions)

Specify the timing of an action or activity

tourists
 

 

Adverbs for Present Perfect Tense

DEFINITE TIMING  "HAPPENING BEFORE AND UP TO NOW"

Adverbial expressions with definite timing are used when actions have starting times and ending times relative to the current moment (now). Compare (1) I have just walked to class this morning. The period ended when I arrived at class. (done, perfective) to (2) I have been walking to class this morning. The period will end when I arrive at class. (may be ongoing, imperfective)

BOTH PROG. NONPROGRESSIVE BOTH PROG. & NONPROGRESSIVE

He has just visited Pisa.

He has just been visiting Pisa.

He has visited Pisa today.

He has been visiting Pisa today

A TIME PERIOD RELATIVE TO NOW A STARTING TIME UP TO NOW

just (just, recently, [neg.] lately)

I have just walked a mile.

I have just been walking a mile.

today¹ / tonight (a time starting from within this time to current time) 

 

so far(to date, up to now, until now)

I have read 40 pages so far.

*I have been reading 40 pages so far.

this month¹  (a time starting from within this time to current tim:morning, evening, week, semester, this spring, year, decade, century)

already (earlier than expected)

I have walked 10 minutes already.

I have been walking 10 minutes already.

since / ever since(from this time to current time: 6:00 AM, noon, midnight, this morning, May 2012; ever since I met you)

yet (later than expected)

I haven't walked 10 minutes yet.

*I haven't been walking 10 minutes yet.

from last Monday until now(1 PM until now)

 

 

 

 

INDEFINITE TIMING "HAPPENING SOMETIME"

Adverbial expressions with indefinite timing are used when activities or states happen "sometime", not related to the current moment (now). The precise time is not important. The focus is on the activity or state.  These adverbs express duration (a period of time) or repetition (the interval of occurrence). They are mostly imperfective (may extend in the future).

MOSTLY PROGRESSIVE BOTH PROG. & NONPROGRESSIVE

He has visited Pisa recently.

He has been visiting temporarily.

He has often given tours.

~He has often been giving tours.

DURATION— PERIOD REPETITION — INTERVAL

temporarily(continuously, briefly, momentarily) [imperfective, ongoing]

⇒ Mostly progressive.

repeatedly(constantly, continuously, again and again, perpetually, eternally)

⇒ Switch to "keep" with progressive.³

for a moment (ten minutes, a week, a month, for a while², a little while, a day,  forever)  ⇒ Often present perfect.

always (routinely, customarily, usually, in general, normally, often, sometimes, hardly ever, never) 

during the week (month, year, etc.)

⇒ Mostly nonprogressive.

ever  (requesting any experience: before) 

from Monday to Tuesday(1 PM to 2 PM, morning to night)

all my life

at night (noon, midnight, sunset)

in spring (winter, summer, June, July)

while it is warm(a relative period of time: when, if, whenever, before, after)  before sunrise  (after)

on Mondays (Tuesday, Sundays, etc.)

most days (nights, weekends, etc.)

over the past year (weeks, decades, centuries)

throughout the year (weeks, decades, centuries)

every / each / every other  (hour, day, night, week, month, year, May, spring)

 

¹ time expressions such as like today or this month include time that is past, present and future. With the present tense, we understand the time to be present, current, now.

² for a while (PP) – can be understood in two ways: (1) having some amount of duration, or (2) being very temporary

³ keep + verb+ing – Repetition can be expressed by using the "keep" (I keep walking.  He kept smiling.)  The progressive with "repeatedly" (*I am walking to class repeatedly. )sounds awkward.

Also see Ever v. Never, Already v. Yet., Adverbs of Frequency, For v Since.

"Leaning Tower of Pisa–Exterior." By Jordiferrer. Wikimedia, 7 Aug. 2016. Licensed under CC BY-SA4.0 International.

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

We have been going to the beach several times this summer.

I have been knowing him for a long time.

SOLUTION

We have gone to the beach several times this summer.

We have been going to the beach this summer.

I have known him for a long time.

I have been hanging out with him for a long time. (inf.)

Static verbs rarely occur in the progressive form.

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Verb Group Agreement

 

 

Select verbs forms to create a verb group that is grammatical.

 

A.

B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

The Tower Restoration

Restoration on Tower of Pisa
 

 

Complete the sentence.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check" or the "Check 1-10" button.

 

1.


Static Verbs - mental states
2.

3.

4.

5.


Static Verbs - mental states 
6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

The Leaning Tower — Before and After

Pisa before and after
 

 

Read for Errors

Restorers have returned the Leaning Tower of Pisa to its former glory after an eight-year restoration project in which they cleaned and partially straightened it.

Workers have been using chisels and hi-tech laser technology to scrub grime from the more than 24,000 blocks of stone on the 183ft tall tower.

The world famous monument has also had its famous lean partially corrected after engineers managed to straighten it by 18 inches from the vertical, returning it to its 1838 position.

"The stones have been in an appalling state, mainly due to air pollution, though tourists and pigeons played a part," explained Anton Sutter, the Swiss-born leader of the 30 million dollar restoration effort.

Sea salt has also been badly damaged the tower —Pisa was once on the coast and became a powerful maritime republic until its harbor silted up.

Now that workers have been completing the restoration, the scaffolding that has surrounded the campanile will be pulled down by a team of mountaineers with knowledge of ropes and climbing.

Tourists have been returning to see the tower, climb the stairs and admire the view.

Staff have restricted the number of visitors per day to slow down the wear and tear on the tower.

The guides for the tower have been offering a video tour as an alternative way to explore the tower without climbing its 296 steps.

"The tower was near collapse, but we managed to stop the tilt and secure it. It's now out of risk for at least the next 200 years," said Giuseppe Bentivoglio, from the Opera Primaziale organization that preserves the tower.

Adapted from — Squires, Nick. "The Slightly Less Leaning Tower of Pisa." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 11 Apr. 0050. Web. 02 Jan. 2014.

alternative (Adj) – another

appalling (Adj) – very unpleasant and shocking

chisel (N) – a metal tool with a sharp edge, used to cut wood or stone

collapse (N) – a fallen state

glory (N) – beauty, elegance, impressive appearance

grime (N) – dirt, soot, and other filthy matter on the surface of something

lean (n./v.) – tilt; difference from perpendicular state

manage (V) – arrange to do or complete something

partially – partly; not completely

restore (V) – return to original state; renew 

restorer (N) – a worker who renews art, buildings, autos, etc.

risk (N) –danger, possible injury or harm

scaffolding (N) – exterior support that the workers stand on; ladders, platforms

scrub – to rub hard with a brush or cloth; clean vigorously

secure (V) – to make safe (safe from falling)

silt up – fill or leave with fine sand; become land-locked

tilt (n./ v.) – lean; difference from perpendicular state

wear and tear (expression) –slow and continuous destruction

 

 

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "Check 21-30" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

21.
Restorers have returned the Leaning Tower of Pisa to its former glory after an eight-year restoration project in which they cleaned and partially straightened it.


22.
Workers have been using chisels and hi-tech laser technology to scrub grime from the more than 24,000 blocks of stone on the 183ft tall tower.


23.
The world famous monument has also had its famous lean partially corrected after engineers managed to straighten it by 18 inches from the vertical, returning it to its 1838 position.


24.
"The stones have been in an appalling state, mainly due to air pollution, though tourists and pigeons played a part," explained Anton Sutter, the Swiss-born leader of the 30 million dollar restoration effort.


25.
Sea salt has also badly damaged the tower — Pisa was once on the coast and became a powerful maritime republic until its harbor silted up.


26.
Now that workers have been completing the restoration, the scaffolding that has surrounded the campanile will be pulled down by a team of mountaineers with knowledge of ropes and climbing.


27.
Tourists have been returning to see the tower, climb the stairs and admire the view.


28.
Staff have restricted the number of visitors per day to slow down the wear and tear on the tower.


29.
The guides for the tower have been offering a video tour as an alternative way to explore the tower without climbing its 296 steps.


30.
"The tower was near collapse, but we managed to stop the tilt and secure it. It's now out of risk for at least the next 200 years," said Giuseppe Bentivoglio, from the Opera Primaziale organization that preserves the tower.