Have you ever found yourself doubting whether you should say 'I've been doing'
or 'I 've done'?
Do they both sound correct in some situations? Then join me in this lesson
for four tips that will help you to decide between 'I've been doing'
and 'I've done' easily, every time.
Hello and welcome everyone, this is Minoo at Anglo-Link.
Right, let's start by answering a frequently asked question.
What's the difference between 1.
'I've been living here for five years.' and 2. 'I've lived here for five years.'
Here are some answers for you to choose from. a) there is no difference
1 - means that i still live here
2 - means I lived here in the past but not now
and c) 1 - means that I still live here
and 2 - means I've just stopped living here
Ok, some of you may be surprised that the correct answer is
a) there is no difference
They both mean that you started living here five years ago and you're still
I can hear you say, 'But they must be different!'
'I've lived' is the Present Perfect Simple tense and refers to a completed action
in the past at an unspecified time.
'I've been living' is the Present Perfect Continuous tense and refers to an action
that started in the past and continues until now.
And you would be absolutely right, but there is another point you have to think about.
Is 'live' an action verb or a state verb?
As you know, if it's a state verb, we cannot use it in a continuous tense.
Now, I can imagine most of you are saying, 'live' is, of course, an action verb.'
So, the correct sentence is 'I've been living here for five years.'
Well, you're right again. 'live' is, grammatically speaking, an action verb.
However, in the specific context of living long-term in the same place,
it can also be considered a state verb,
a little bit like 'exist'.
That's why a native speaker would instinctively know that they can say either
'I've been living here for five years' or 'I've lived here for five years'
to express the same idea.
And 'live' is not the only verb that this can happen to.
Other action verbs such as 'work', 'smoke', 'collect' that are related to long-term
facts or habits are also sometimes treated as a state verb.
You may hear 'I've collected stamps since I was 11' instead of
'I've been collecting stamps since I was 11'.
So, how can you, without the native speaker instinct, decide which
one to use when you want to express that something started in the past and
continues until now.
Not to worry! Just follow these tips.
Tip #1 - Make sure you know which verbs are 'pure' state verbs and always use
the Present Perfect Simple with them.
Some common ones are 'know', 'belong', and 'exist'.
So, you must always say 'I've known him for 20 years.'
or 'I've belonged to this group since May'.
Never, 'I've been knowing' or 'I've been belonging'
In case you aren't sure, I've put a link
to a list of state verbs in the description box.
Make sure you know the verbs that have two meanings, one action and one state.
For example, 'have a car' meaning 'own a car' is a state verb.
But, 'have a shower' meaning 'take a shower' is an action verb.
These are also on the list.
With all action verbs, use the Present Perfect Continuous. You will always be
correct. Say 'I've been living here for five years.',
'I've been playing the piano since I was five'.
And don't get confused if you hear a native speaker say
'I've lived here for five years.' or 'I've played the piano since I was five.'
You now know that they're treating an action verb like a state verb
because, in that specific context, it feels like a state to them.
Now let's look at another situation and that's when the action has just stopped.
You may have heard native speakers use 'I've been doing' for an action that
stopped a few minutes ago.
Well, if three conditions come together you must use the Present Perfect
Continuous instead of the Present Perfect.
Condition number one:
The action was in progress for some time.
Secondly, the action stopped a short time ago. And third and most importantly,
you are able to observe and comment on the result of that action.
For example, you're
working in the garden and the doorbell rings. You stop and answer the door.
You can say to your visitor, 'Sorry my hands are dirty,
I've been working in the garden.'
You may or may not continue to work in the garden after the interruption.
That doesn't matter. Another common example of this is the question,
'Why are your eyes red?'
'Have you been crying?', not 'Have you cried?'
If you want more examples of how this tense is used in this context,
read the famous children's story of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'.
I've put a link to it in the description box.
And finally tip #4.
What to do with negative sentences?
It depends. You don't often see the Present Perfect Continuous in a negative
sentence, because it's strange to insist on the continuity of an action that never happened.
For example, if there is no rain this morning, you would say
'It hasn't rained this morning', Present Perfect.
Not, 'It hasn't been raining this morning'.
The only time you would see the Present
Perfect Continuous in the negative form is when the negation is about the
information contained in the sentence rather than the verb itself.
For example, you could say
'I haven't been studying Maths, but Science.'
Or, 'I have been feeling too well today.'
Meaning, 'I've been feeling unwell.'
Well, I hope these tips have answered all your
doubts and you now feel confident that you know when to use
'I've been doing' and when to use 'I've done' instead. If you're still a bit
uncertain, I have two lessons you can watch for a better understanding of the
This one explains the differences between the Present Perfect and the
Present Perfect Continuous and this one is about state verbs and action verbs.
After you watch these two lessons, you can come back and review these four tips.
And, you can find more explanations and exercises on my website too.
Thanks a lot for watching and see you in my next lesson. Bye now!