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#1
Alice Chu is offline Member
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Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Please tell me the difference between sentence A and sentence B, and which of them is more natural or more commonly used.

1. ( A) Sam has swum every day/twice a week for three months.
1. ( B) Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

2. ( A) Tom has swum for two years to keep healthy.
2. ( B) Tom has been swimming for two years to keep healthy.

3. ( A) Joe has swum for half an hour.
3. ( B) Joe has been swimming for half an hour.
Although I am an English teacher, I still need to improve my English. I appreciate your help and kindness.

#2
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Quote Originally Posted by Alice Chu View Post
Please tell me the difference between sentence A and sentence B, and which of them is more natural or more commonly used.

1. ( A) Sam has swum every day/twice a week for three months.
1. ( B) Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

They're both fine and give the same facts.


2. ( A) Tom has swum for two years to keep healthy.

You're saying that at some time in the past, Tom swam for two years. Impossible. No one can swim for two years.


2. ( B) Tom has been swimming for two years to keep healthy.

Same problem. He cannot have been swimming for two years. He would have drowned long ago!

He has been going swimming for two years.


3. ( A) Joe has swum for half an hour.

It's natural. It means that at some time in the past, Joe swam for half an hour. We don't know when.


3. ( B) Joe has been swimming for half an hour.

It's natural. It means he is swimming now. He has been for the past half hour.
Now you know!
I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

#3
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Alice Chu, I think it's important that you stop making up your own sentences and then asking us what you mean. I think you're going about this in the wrong way.

You're apparently trying to understand the meaning/use of the present perfect continuous tense. Is that right? Asking whether your made up sentences are natural is completely pointless for that goal, as is asking whether they are commonly used.

#4
Alice Chu is offline Member
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
Now you know!
Please tell me the correct uses and meanings.

1. (A) Sam has swum every day/twice a week for three months.
1. (B) Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.
Both the sentences above indicate that a regular action (happening every day/twice a week) lasts for three months until the moment of speaking.
Does sentence B mean that “swimming” is happening right now, but sentence A is not, or both of them mean that it is not necessarily happening right now?

2. (A) Tom has gone swimming for two years.
2. (B) Tom went swimming for two years.
Sentence A means Tom swam repeatedly for two years, and swimming is not a continuous action lasting for a long period of time (two years) without a break. He is not swimming right now.
Does sentence B have the same meaning as sentence A?

3. He has been going swimming for two years.
It means he started swimming two years ago and has done it repeatedly until the present, and he is swimming right now. Swimming is not a continuous action lasting for a long period of time (two years) without a break.
Although I am an English teacher, I still need to improve my English. I appreciate your help and kindness.

#5
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Quote Originally Posted by Alice Chu View Post
Please tell me the correct uses and meanings.

1. (A) Sam has swum every day/twice a week for three months.
1. (B) Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.
Both the sentences above indicate that a regular action (happening every day/twice a week) lasts for three months until the moment of speaking.
Does sentence B mean that “swimming” is happening right now, but sentence A is not, or both of them mean that it is not necessarily happening right now?

They're grammatical and natural and give the same facts.


2. (A) Tom has gone swimming for two years.
2. (B) Tom went swimming for two years.
Sentence A means Tom swam repeatedly for two years, and swimming is not a continuous action lasting for a long period of time (two years) without a break. He is not swimming right now.

Yes. It also means that he still goes swimming. He has not stopped going swimming. It's not quite natural, because we would probably say where or how often he swims— every day, after work, at the pond, in the ocean, whatever.


Does sentence B have the same meaning as sentence A?

No. It's past tense.


3. He has been going swimming for two years.
It means he started swimming two years ago and has done it repeatedly until the present, and he is swimming right now.

It does not say whether he's swimming now.


Swimming is not a continuous action lasting for a long period of time (two years) without a break.

Not in that sentence. In some sentences, it is.
So there!
I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

#6
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

You apparently have a fixed idea that use of present perfect continuous means that the action is happening right now. You must get rid of that idea. It's wrong.

Whether the action is happening right now or not does not depend purely on the tense.

#7
Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
You apparently have a fixed idea that use of present perfect continuous means that the action is happening right now. You must get rid of that idea. It's wrong.

Whether the action is happening right now or not does not depend purely on the tense.
What am I missing? It certainly doesn't always mean the same thing. But in that particular case, the person Alice is talking with would have the benefit of the same information either way: knowledge of his swimming habits.

It's like:

- My sister has lived in Burnsville for ten years.

- My sister has been living in Burnsville for ten years.

Does she live there now? Yes. Did she live there yesterday? Yes. Did she live there ten years ago? Yes. Has she been there for a period of ten years? Yes.

Alice, when a teacher and I disagree, you should always follow the teachers' guidance, not mine. I just want to understand what the difference in meaning is between your two sentences.
I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

#8
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
What am I missing?
I don't think you're missing anything.

It certainly doesn't always mean the same thing. But in that particular case, the person Alice is talking with would have the benefit of the same information either way: knowledge of his swimming habits.
Yes. But there is a difference in what we mean by 'meaning'. The difference between your Burnsville sentences is aspect. The informational content is the same in both sentences, but the way that the speaker conceives of her actions in relation to the time frame within which they happen is different. I usually call that a difference in meaning because I think of meaning as a product of the thought in the speaker's mind rather than some analytical property of a given sentence. Many of the members on the forum have different ideas of what meaning is, which in my judgement often leads to seeming that we disagree. Rather it's just that we're using different ways and different terms to explain things.

My sister has been living in Burnsville for ten years.

Does she live there now? Yes. Did she live there yesterday? Yes. Did she live there ten years ago? Yes. Has she been there for a period of ten years? Yes.
Well, those are all assumptions based on how you imagine the situation to be, but you might also imagine a context where all three answers are no. The idea I want to get across to Alice Chu is that there is nothing in the tense itself (present perfect continuous) that says anything at all about what is happening now or what will happen in the future. That kind of knowledge comes not from the tense/aspect but from elsewhere. I think if Alice can grasp this key point, it will help her gain a deeper understanding of the uses of different aspects, which is exactly what she's trying to do, apparently.

At the moment, Alice, your equation of present perfect continuous = 'happening now' is holding you back, in my professional opinion. I'm speaking here as someone whose day job is to help teachers understand things like tense/aspect in order that they may teach learners how to use it more effectively.
Last edited by jutfrank; 15-Apr-2021 at 21:06.

#9
tedmc is offline VIP Member
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Re: Sam has been swimming every day/twice a week for three months.

I think "everyday" is written as one word when used as an adjective.
I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

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