The present perfect continuous


We use the present perfect continuous for an action (waiting). The action happens over a period of time (for twenty minutes). Here the period lasts up to the present – they are still waiting now.


The present perfect continuous is the present tense of have + been + an ing-form.
I/you/we/they have been waiting OR I/you/we/they’ve been waiting
he/she/it has been waiting OR he/she/it’s been waiting


I/you/we/they haven’t been waiting
he/she/it hasn’t been waiting


have I/you/we/they been waiting?
has he/she/it been waiting?

We’ve been standing here for ages.
It has been raining all day.
Have you been waiting long?
Our team hasn’t been doing very well lately.


We use the present perfect continuous for an action over a period of time leading up to the present.
In these examples the action is still going on.
We’ve been waiting here for twenty minutes. (We’re waiting now.)
Listen. That burglar alarm has been ringing since eight o’clock this morning.
We must use the perfect in these situations.
NOT We wait here for twenty minutes OR We’re waiting-here for twenty-minutes

We can use the present perfect continuous to talk about repeated actions up to now.
Natasha has been playing the piano since she was four.
We can also use it to talk about an action which ends just before the present.
I’ve been swimming. That’s why my hair is wet.

For, since, how long and recently

We can use the present perfect continuous with for and since

My sister has been staying with me for three weeks now.
You’ve been playing on that computer since seven o’clock.

We use how long in questions

How long have you been waiting?

Note also recently and lately. These both mean ‘in the last few days or weeks’.
I haven’t been feeling very well recently.
What have you been doing lately?