[Grammar] I've been working in the garden - the perfect perfect continuous

Gunner1999

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Hi. I've been thinking of one example, which isn't explained in any books. I know the rules of the present perfect continuous, however what should we do when we announce a piece of news by using this tense and then we would like to give more details? For example:
- Hi, I can't go to the party today. I'm so tired, because I've been working in the garden.
- It's a pity. What have you been doing there?
- I've been raking.
- With whom have you been doing it?
Should we use this scheme if we want to get on with giving details?
 

Raymott

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You'd change the tense to something less unwieldy as soon as possible.

- Hi, I can't go to the party today. I'm so tired, because I've been working in the garden.
- That's a pity. What were you doing?
etc.
 

Gunner1999

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So I understand that it looks the same like the present perfect. At first we announce something by using these perfect tenses and then we switch to the past continuous or to the past simple. Right?
 

Raymott

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I would not go as far as codifying it like that. Simpler tenses are preferable unless there is a reason to use a perfect tense.
 

Gunner1999

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Would it be acceptable if I used the past simple?
- I've been working in the garden.
- What were you doing? or What did you do?
Which is better?
 

Raymott

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It wouldn't be as natural.
 

Gunner1999

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Yes, but I mean whether it is possible to use the past simple after somebody uses the present perfect continuous and we still want to continue a conversation. Because we often enquire about details.
 

Raymott

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No, it would be better in this case to reply "What were you doing?" than "What did you do?".

I'm trying not to give you the idea that there's a right and wrong answer, or that there is a set sequence of tense changes that you need to make in a conversation. These subtleties are stylistic. You will grow into an appreciation of them with more experience, listening to natural English, and reading.
 

Gunner1999

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Ok. Thanks for the advice.
 
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