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.

Compare:

We use am/are/is + -ing for unfinished, but soon to be completed actions.

We use have/has + -en for recently completed actions.

present progressive / present continuous tense timeline - future action

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.

present perfect tense timeline - present result - Recent action: happened at a time before now

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.

present progressive / present continuous tense timeline - future action

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?

present perfect tense timeline - present result - Recent action: happened at a time before now

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.

present progressive / present continuous tense timeline - not finished, started, happening 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?*

present perfect tense timeline - present result - Duration: happened for a period up to now

I‘ve lived here for a month. (to now: from when I moved to now)
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’.

Practice Exercises

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.