Grammar - Intermediate
Present Perfect Continuous Structure
To make the present perfect continuous, we use the present perfect of the verb "to be" and then we use the main verb in the 'ing' form.
She has been working here for almost a year now.
Here is the verb read in all forms of the present perfect continuous.
I have been washing the car. Look at it - isn't it spotless!
You haven't been watching that terrible soap opera again have you!
Have you been sitting here waiting for long?
Present Perfect Continuous Use
We use the present perfect continuous to talk about an action that started in the past and is either still continuing or recently finshed.
I have been reading that new book of mine all morning.
We are more interested in the activity and cannot be sure from this sentence if the person has finished reading or not.
We often use this tense to say how long something has been happening.
I have been learning English for about five years.
Present Perfect Simple or Continuous?
Compare these sentences:
I've been repairing the TV for hours.
In the first, the activity is being spoken about and we are not sure if the TV is fixed yet or not. In the second, there is no doubt that it has been repaired.
I've been writing letters for two hours.
The present perfect continuous is often used to talk about how long. The present perfect simple to talk about how many.
You can't say
I've lived in this town all my life.
The difference here is that the simple form is used to show permanence whereas the continuous form is used for a shorter period of time. There is a similar difference between the present continuous and the present simple.
A second conditional sentence is comprised of two halves.
We use the second conditional to say what we might possibly do in an unlikely situation.
We have seen in Pre-Intermediate level how the zero conditional and the first conditional are used to talk about possibility and result. The second conditional is another structure used to talk about present or future possibility but it sees the possibility as very unlikely, remote, improbable.
Look at these examples:
If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house in France.
The first situation is not very possible. The second is impossible. Both sentences are describing present/future situations. The second conditional is not used to talk about the past. For that, see the Third Conditional!
Often, we use were for every person in the second conditional. It's OK to use was for he, she and it but it is considered "better" to use were:
If she were married, she would understand my situation.
First or Second Conditional?
We have already discussed how both these conditionals refer to present or future time. So what is the difference? Look at these sentences:
Milton Jones, Politician: "If I become President, I will cut taxes."
John Smith, taxi-driver: "If I became President, I would cut taxes."
Milton uses the First Conditional as he sees the possibility of becoming President as real. He is, after all, a politician. John is a taxi driver and has no chance of actually becoming President. So for him, it is a dream, an imagined situation. And this is where we use the Second Conditional.
Look at these final examples of "unreal" possibility where the second conditional is necessary.
If I met Michael Jackson at a party, I would speak to his monkey.
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