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Verb Tense – Perfect Progressive Tenses


Finally, the perfect progressive tenses. These are the most exotic tenses you're going to see on the GMAT. So first of all, keep in mind, these tenses are relatively rare, and the present perfect progressive is far more common than the past or future forms. The past or future forms are particularly rare. The present perfect progressive is formed by has or have, plus been, plus the present participle.

So, for example, I have been reading, she has been exercising, they have been working. This carries the connotation of ongoing activity that began in the past and continues up to and through the present moment. So if I say I have been reading such and such a book, I'm saying that I started in the past, it's been ongoing activity, and that activity still continues at the present moment.

So consider the connotations of the different tenses. If I say, I write an email, that's simple present. So that may just be a statement of fact about what I'm doing right now. It may also be, have the connotation of, every day, I write an email. So a repeated action that's going on through time. If I say, I wrote an email, simple past, this is implying, okay, done deal, I did it yesterday, perfectly done, I'm all done with that.

I am writing an email, well, that emphasizes that right now that action is continuing. It may be that I'm sitting at the computer, someone says, what are you doing, I'm writing an email. It may also be that I write the email and then I go to lunch, and people say, well, what are you doing at work, well, I am writing an email.

So in some sense I consider myself in the middle of that action. I have written an email, so this is particularly interesting. And again, we talked about this in the perfect video. I have written an email, this implies, okay, the event is done, I wrote the email, it's been sent. But somehow, there's something about it.

Maybe, maybe the consequence of the email, maybe I'm still thinking about it, there's some influence that still continues into the present moment. Now, the past perfect, I had written an email, I would only use that to indicate that the writing of the email preceded some other past event. And then we get to, I have been writing an email. Now, this has some very interesting connotations.

It has the connotation of, first of all, an event that started in the past, it's still continuing, and in a way, this has the connotation that it's been going on for a while. It almost has the connotation, I've been doing it so long I'm almost sick of it. I have been writing an email. This has been going on for quite some time.

And it really emphasizes that it's a long, drawn-out activity. That is the emphasis of the present perfect progressive. Now, the other present, the other perfect present progressive tenses, are very rare. I had been writing an email, the past perfect progressive could conceivably appear on the GMAT, maybe. In a very rare instance.

The future perfect progressive, I really would bet a large amount of money that you would never see this on the GMAT, it is just that rare. But these are the other forms of the perfect progressive. Now, finally notice, there's a difference between actions and states of being. For active verbs, I might use the present perfect progressive for an action continuing up to the present moment.

I have been working, he has been driving, she has been programming, they have been singing. These are example of the present perfect progressive, again indicating continuous activity began in the past and I'm still doing that activity in the present. We would not use the present perfect progressive for states of being. For states of being, we would use just the present perfect.

I have been happy. He has been my friend. She has been CEO. In order to use the present perfect progressive, we'd have to use something like, I have been being happy. That been being is never going to be correct on the GMAT.

So just keep that in mind. That is one of the most awkward forms in the English language. That will always be wrong.

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