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If I use Present Perfect Progressive and Present Perfect with an expression of unfinished time, it implies that the action is continuing.

But what about recently and lately — when used with Present Perfect Progressive and Present Perfect do they imply, like expressions of unfinished time, that the actions are still continuing?

And if lately/recently are not used in a sentence (with either Present Perfect or Present Perfect Progressive) would it imply that an action is complete?

E.g.

  • Recently/lately, I have been feeling really tired.
    Recently/lately, I have felt really tired.
    I have been feeling tired.
    I have felt tired.
  • She has been watching too much television lately.
    She has watched ... lately/recently.
    She has been watching too much television.
  • Have you been exercising lately?
    Have you exercised lately?
    Have you been exercising?
  • Mary has been feeling a little depressed.
    Mary has felt depressed lately/recently.
    Mary has been feeling a little depressed lately/recently.
  • Lisa has not been practicing her English.
    She has not practiced her English recently/lately.
    Lisa has not been practicing her English lately/recently.
  • What have you been doing?
    What have you done? [a completed action]

What have you done recently/lately? What have you been doing recently/lately?

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From my understanding, the use of those words does not change the meaning of the simple/progressive form. All of your examples seem to confirm this. What I do not understand is your last question about not being used in a sentence. Could you clarify that? –  Anke Apr 15 '13 at 10:38
    
I asked if the absence of 'lately' or 'recently' (just like the absence of 'for' and 'since') in a sentence would imply that the action is complete. –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 10:49
    
If I remove 'recently' and 'lately' all the sentences would refer to a recently finished actions if I am not mistaken.I have been feeling really tired. She has been watching too much television. Have you been exercising? Mary has been feeling a little depressed. Lisa has not been practicing her English. What have you been doing? –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 10:58
3  
No, the progressive form at least leaves open the possibility that the action is continuing. "Have you exercised?" is concerned strictly with whether you exercised in the past. "Have you been exercising?" asks about whether you've been engaging in an ongoing program of exercise, which may still be in effect. The only difference "lately" makes is to exclude answers like "I exercised every day two years ago." With the progressive form "lately" is arguably unnecessary. –  gmcgath Apr 15 '13 at 11:53
1  
I agree with the previous comment, "lately" does not change the meaning dramatically. It is arguable whether expressions like "lately" and "recently" give the meaning of unfinished action, what about: "I have read about a hundred articles recently" –  fluffy Apr 15 '13 at 12:16

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

When 'recently' or 'lately' is used with present perfect progressive:

Since the adverbs recently and lately both suggest that something is done either "at a recent time" or "not long ago", using these words to describe a particular ongoing action in the past does not necessarily imply that the action is continuing right up to the present.

Scenario 1: A is having lunch with B.

A: Have you been listening to the podcasts by Brain Cox recently/lately?

B: Yes. (But this does not imply that the action is continuing right up to the present.)

When 'recently' or 'lately' is not used with present perfect progressive:

Omissions of adverbs such as recently and lately do not necessarily suggest that an action is complete.

Scenario 2: A saw B sitting on a bench.

A: How long have you been sitting on the bench?

B: A couple of minutes.


What about the present perfect?

The present perfect is normally used to denote the present state of an action's being completed, that is, that the action took place before the present time.


Habitual action:

The present perfect and the present perfect progressive can both be used to talk about an action that is habitual:

"I have gone out with her every weekend."

"I have been going out with her every weekend."

Using the present perfect progressive can imply that this habitual action is continuing right up to the present, but it may not always be the case.

Updates: When 'recently' or 'lately' is used with present perfect progressive

Describing an action in the present perfect progressive form with "recently" or "lately" does not necessarily imply that the action is continuing right up to the present, but it may suggest that it is a habitual action.

"I've been going to the pub recently."

Describing an action in the present perfect form does not suggest that it is a habitual action.

"I've gone to the pub recently."

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So when 'lately' and 'recently' are used with present perfect continuous the action may be still in progress or completed not long time ago. But if they are used with the present perfect tense, it(the present perfect) would imply that the action is finished. –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 13:50
    
In questions like; What have you been doing? Have you been reading?Have you been exercising? We are speaking about actions that are finished by the moment of speaking, am I right? –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 13:53
1  
@Monica Not all the time. I've updated my answer regarding that. But you are right about persent perfect continuous being used for ongoing action in the past which continues right up to the present or has recently finished. –  0ar.ch Apr 15 '13 at 14:03
    
I am reading your answers carefully.... –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 14:08
1  
Everything depends on the context. The action may be still in progress or complete. I see. Thank you very much for your explanations. –  Monica Apr 15 '13 at 14:21

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