Just to recap from earlier Grammar Activation Packs, the continuous aspect of the present and past tense is marked by the auxiliary verb be plus the ing form of the verb. If you see the verb be followed by an ing form, it’s the continuous aspect. Verb to be plus ing! is really all you need to know to identify the continuous aspect. I’ll remind you also that perfect means finished or complete. Indeed, it is sometimes called the complete aspect, though this can be misleading, particularly with the present perfect continuous where we talk about things that are not complete.
The perfect aspect of the present tense is marked by the auxiliary verb have plus the past participle. Remember that the tenses are shown by the auxiliary verbs, be, do, and have. If we have the present tense of have followed by a past participle, we have present perfect. So, if have plus a past participle gives us the perfect aspect, and be +ing gives us the continuous aspect, then together we should get the perfect continuous aspect.
Well, it’s easy enough to name the aspects and the tenses, but you may be wondering how, when, and where we should use the perfect continuous aspect. In this Grammar Activation Pack we will look at the present tense, perfect continuous aspect. The very name of the structure tells us a lot about it. The present tense tells us there is a connection with the present, that is, now. The perfect aspect uses the past participle which shows a connection to the past. The continuous aspect talks about something happening over a period of time; in this case from a time in the past to the present. Grammar Activation Pack 9 – Present Perfect Continuous
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