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  1. #1
    Arobaz is offline Newbie
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    Default Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuous

    Hello everybody,


    I have some issues with the present perfect continuous when it means : Actions recently finished, and without time phrase.
    I don't know which should I use : present perfect simple, present perfect continuous and even the past continuous at times!

    Here are some examples :


    First example
    - 'What have you been doing today?'
    - 'I've been reading a book'
    or
    - 'I've just been reading a book'


    But... I don't see any difference (I'm French) and I wonder why they say : 'what have you been doing today' instead of 'what have you done' ...



    And in a video, I saw :
    "I have been looking over your resume and I have to say I'm very impressed."

    Context : That's for a job interview, the job applicant knock at the door and the head of personnel is waiting for her with the resume in her hand. And she say :
    'Oh come in, have a seat. I have been looking over your resume and I have to say I'm very impressed'.

    I'm wondering whether I can use the present perfect and what's the difference between :

    ->I have been looking over your resume and I have to say I'm very impressed.

    -> I have (just) looked over your resume and I have to say I'm very impressed.

    What is the difference? Does it imply an idea (PPC) of duration? (PPS) Of completion? :s


    Third example
    -Who have you talked to?

    -Who have you been talking to?

    -Who were you talking to?
    <-- I believe this one is more common in American English, because I saw it in Malcolm ;)

    I'm totally lost with those ones... I can't imagine what the difference they have.


    Fourth example
    -The ground is wet. It has been raining.

    -The ground is wet. It has rained.

    The former is more common than the latter, but I have already seen the latter... So... I odn't know :/


    And finally :
    - Why have you been talking to him?

    - Why have you talked to him?

    - Why were you talking to him?


    I'm sorry for this long post, but I think : the more examples there are, the better you can help me ^_^

    I hope you'll can help me to see the difference

    Thank you very much in advance,

    Have good night / have a nice day.

    Arobaz

  2. #2
    raphey is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    ***Not a teacher***

    Wow, what a detailed/subtle set of questions! I'm no expert, but here are my thoughts on the examples you cited:

    First example: Both sound good, though the recency of the book-reading is clearly different. And "what have you done today?" is a fine question, though given a certain intonation it could perhaps put people on the defensive. Not sure why- maybe it is the aspect of completion. So what have you accomplished, anyway? :)

    Second example: just as you said, the simple past implies completion. Combined with "just" it implies recency and completion, which starts to sound like it wasn't a very careful examination. "Just finished looking over" takes away that problem. "Have been looking over" is also good, with an implied open-endedness.

    Third example: "Who have you talked to?" seems to imply something developing or ongoing. So you have a terminal illness- who have you talked to (to get advice)? You saw something you weren't supposed to- who have you talked to? Who have you been talking to- this could mean the same things as above. But it could be a general question, implying regularity.

    Fourth example: Not really sure, but the first sounds much more common.

    Fifth example: I have no additional information apart from what is in example three, but I can say that the middle phrase, "why have you talked to him?", seems pretty uncommon.

    I hope that is at least a little helpful.

    Raphey
    If you are a non-native English speaker, please consider checking out my research survey, described elsewhere on the Using English forum.

  3. #3
    Arobaz is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    Thank you for your answer :)

    But there isn't teacher in here ? :/


    Anyway, but I've got another sentence where I don't see any differences :

    Has John told you about the party next week? - No, I haven’t seen him today.


    Has John been telling you about the party next week? - No, we were talking about last weekend.


    Thanks in advance ;)

  4. #4
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    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    Quote Originally Posted by Arobaz View Post
    Thank you for your answer :)

    But there isn't teacher in here ? :/


    Anyway, but I've got another sentence where I don't see any differences :

    Has John told you about the party next week? - No, I haven’t seen him today.


    Has John been telling you about the party next week? - No, we were talking about last weekend.


    Thanks in advance ;)
    "Has John been telling you about the party next week? - No, we were talking about last weekend."
    This one is only possible if the questioner has just seen you talking to John.
    If you post your other questions one at a time, somebody will probably answer them.

  5. #5
    Arobaz is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    Thank you =)

    Okay sorry, I notice


    Another one :

    - Why have you been talking to him? : Maybe I see my friend crying after having a conversation with someone, and I ask him : why have you been talking to?

    - Why have you talked to him? : I want to know the reasons about the conversation.

    -
    Why were you talking to him?<- I believe this one is more common in American English but I'm not really sure.


    Am I right? Your opinion / thoughts are welcome :)

    Thanks in advance

  6. #6
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    bhaisahab is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    Quote Originally Posted by Arobaz View Post
    Thank you =)

    Okay sorry, I notice


    Another one :

    - Why have you been talking to him? : Maybe I see my friend crying after having a conversation with someone, and I ask him : why have you been talking to?

    - Why have you talked to him? : I want to know the reasons about the conversation.Why did you talk to him?

    -
    Why were you talking to him?<- I believe this one is more common in American English but I'm not really sure.


    Am I right? Your opinion / thoughts are welcome :)

    Thanks in advance
    Why were you talking to him?
    This is more natural in most contexts than, Why have you been talking to him?

  7. #7
    Arobaz is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Actions (recently) finished : present perfect simple or present perfect continuou

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Why were you talking to him?
    This is more natural in most contexts than, Why have you been talking to him?
    All right, thank you :)

    But, just to know : my try about "
    Why have you been talking to him?" was right?

    Because, I believe that the present perfect continuous for actions finished is used when there are some evidences... therefore we emphasize on the action itself.

    - He
    's been playing all afternoon and needs a shower!

    - Who
    's been messing around with my papers? They're all scattered.

    But I've read a sentence that bother me :


    - We've been looking forward to this holiday for ages. (Or we've looked forward to….)

    The lesson says : Present perfect continuous emphasises a mental process; present perfect emphasises a mental state.

    I don't understand that very well :s... a mental process ? A mental state ? What does it mean, please?

    And.. that's all, I think. :)

    Thank you so much again :)


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