be -ing or have -en?
Present Progressive vs Present Perfect
When do people be -ing and when do we use have -en? Let’s look at some sentences with be -ing (present progressive/present continuous) and have -en (present perfect) to better understand the meanings be -ing and have -en add and why speakers choose to use them.
Or start with our practice exercises.
Why do we use them?
We add be -ing to our sentences to show something is not finished. It finishes after now.
We add have -en when we are talking about the present, and we want to say what happened before now. There is a result in the present.
We use am/are/is + -ing for unfinished, but soon to be completed actions.
We use have/has + -en for recently completed actions.
I‘m mopping the floor. (started or not started)
I‘m not fixing the door. It isn’t broken.
Are you washing the windows? I hope you plan to do it soon.
I‘ve fixed the door.
I haven’t mopped the floor.
Have you washed the windows?
We use am/are/is + -ing for things that are unfinished: definite future experiences.
We use have/has + -en for experiences we have in the present.
I‘m riding a motorcycle next week. I am experiencing it soon.
I‘m not going to Salt Lake City. I am never having the experience.
Are you watching Star Wars soon? Are you experiencing it soon?
I‘ve ridden a motorcycle.
I haven’t been to Salt Lake City.
Have you seen Star Wars?
We use am/are/is + -ing with for to talk about periods of time from start to end.
We use have/has + -en with for or since to talk about a period of time up to now.
I‘m living here for a month. (total: from when I moved to when I leave)
I‘m not working here for long. I have a short contract.
I’m in Costa Rica now. How long are you staying in Costa Rica?*
I‘ve lived here for a month. (to now: from when I moved to now)
I haven’t worked here for long. I’m new here.
How long have you been in Costa Rica?(from arriving to now)
*We answer by saying the total time, ‘For a month total’, or additional time, ‘For two more weeks’.
1. Make a conversation
2. Complete the conversation
3. How can we say it?
Choose sentences to fit the situations. There may be more than one answer.
How did you go?
These two parts are used in many English tense patterns so it is good to think about what they mean and how they are used.
Or, look another common word: will (and what is known as the future simple tense).
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