You're having a conversation with some new friends in English, and you want to tell them about yourself.

People sitting around tables having a conversation. Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

You can tell them things that happened to you in the past with no problem: "I studied English in high school."

You can also tell them things that are happening to you right now: "I'm still learning English."

But if you want to talk about something in both the past and the present you'll need to say a sentence like "I have been learning English for three years."

To do this, you'll need to use the present perfect continuous tense.

How to use present perfect continuous

The present perfect continuous tense uses have/has been + the main verb + -ing.

The present perfect continuous tense is used to describe events that started in the past and are still happening in the present.

A gloved finger moving across a calendar to show the passage of time.

For talking about yourself, consider using it for describing:

  • How long you have been studying English

  • How long you have been working at your current job

  • New English apps you have been using recently

Conversation practice

If you can use the present perfect continuous tense, your conversation with your friends might look like the one below. Your friend will use the verb "use" in the blank. Which form of "use" should go there?

  • Your friend: When did you start learning English?

  • You: I started learning English in high school.

  • Your friend: Is it hard?

  • You: Yes, it's hard. But now, it's a bit easier because I have been using an app called Rumie to help.

  • Your friend: Oh nice, I ___ Rumie to help learn how to write essays because I have a lot of essays at university this year.

A notebook open in front of a computer with essay software open.


What should go in the blank in the conversation above?

Clues for when to use present perfect continuous

If you're having trouble deciding when to use the present perfect progressive tense, there are some words you can look for to help:

  1. Since or for plus a time or event

  2. Recently or lately or words that mean the same thing

The first clue tells people an exact period of time, the second just means you started doing the action recently.

Pro tip: use contractions ("I've been...") to sound more natural.


  • I've been living here for two years.

  • I've been working from home since 2020.

  • I've been cooking a lot since I bought that cookbook.


  • I've been studying English a lot lately.

  • I've been learning a lot of grammar recently.

  • Recently, I've been using Rumie to learn English.

Conversation practice

The conversation below is how you might use present perfect continuous with these words. You'll need to put a word from above in the blank. Which word should you use?

  • Your friend: Have you been working at your job for a long time?

  • You: Yes, I've been working there since I finished university.

  • Your friend: Do you think you might ever change jobs?

  • You: Recently, I've been looking at some new jobs online.

  • Your friend: Do you think you'll find one soon?

  • You: Maybe. My cousin has been looking for a new job ___ two months and still hasn't found one.

A computer next to a clipboard with notes for a resume on it


What should go in the blank?

Answering questions about yourself

Use everything you've been learning in this Byte to answer some common questions about yourself with the present perfect continuous.

People having a conversation and laughing while having coffee Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash


  1. How long have you been living in this country for?

  2. What do you do for fun?

  3. What are some new fun things to do in this city?

  4. Do you have any family in this area?


  1. I've been living here for two years.

  2. I've been learning a new language.

  3. The city has been building a lot of new parks downtown.

  4. My brother has been staying with me for a week.


How could you answer this question: "How long have you been learning English?"

Take Action

Rory Gilmore opens a door and says,

Now that you know how to use the present perfect continuous tense, try to use it in a real conversation.


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