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Are the answers I chose correct. My choices are in bold.

I have been pumping/I have pumped up three tyres. Would you like to do the forth?

I have been greasing/I have greased my car. That's why my hands are dirty.

She has been polishing/has polished this table all the morning and she is not satisfied with it yet. ( I chose both answers as correct, but accroding to the test my answer was wrong.)

I only have been hearing/have heard about him twice since he went away.

He has been riding /has ridden, that's why he is wearing breeches.

I have been pulling up/have pulled up dandelions all day. ( I chose both forms)

I have been hearing/ have heard from her regularly. She is a very good correspondent.(I chose both forms)

I have been making/have made sausage rolls for the party all the morning.(I chose both, but I am not sure 'have made' is correct.)

How to explain why using other choices would be wrong?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The present perfect continuous is, in most cases, used to describe an action that is ongoing:

I have been pumping

means: "I have pumped, but I'm not done yet; I'm still pumping."

By contrast, the present perfect is used to describe an action that has ended:

I have pulled up dandelions all day

means: "I've spent all day pulling up dandelions, but now the day is done, and my task is over."


For almost all of the sentences you give, I could imagine different contexts in which one of the two choices would be acceptable. It all depends on the context. That said, I would favour the following:

I have pumped up three tyres. Would you like to do the fourth?

The latter question seems to imply that the first three tyres are now properly pumped up. Now, someone has to pump the fourth one up.

She has been polishing this table all morning and she is not satisfied with it yet.

The fact that she is not yet satisfied with it yet seems to imply that she is still working on it. The task is ongoing; therefore, the present perfect continuous should be used.

I only have heard about him twice since he went away.

The use of "only" here implies that the present perfect must be used rather than the present perfect continuous.

He has been riding, that's why he is wearing breeches.

He's still wearing breeches, which may imply that he's not done riding.

I have been hearing from her regularly. She is a very good correspondent.

That last statement indicates that communication with her has not stopped, but is ongoing; therefore, use the present perfect continuous.


EDIT: However, there are exceptions. The present perfect continuous does not always describe an action that is ongoing. Here is an example:

I can smell whisky on your breath! Have you been drinking?

Here, when the question is asked, the drinking has presumably already come to an end.

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1  
+1, excellent answer. We need experts on ell.stackexchange.com. Please, take a look. Thank you! –  user19148 Apr 21 '13 at 12:56
    
I agree with Carlo_R. The answer is great. Thanks.I have leart that both are used with the expressions of unfinished time to imply that an action is still ongoing. Isn't 'all day' an expression of unfinished time? –  Monica Apr 21 '13 at 14:04
    
Does present perfect suggest that the action is still ongoing only when it is used with an expression of unfinished time? In these examples : He has been riding, that's why he is wearing breeches.I have been hearing from her regularly. She is a very good correspondent. I have been pumping-the correct choice in all of them was present perfect progressevive and not present perfect. Was it because present perfect can be used instead of the present progressive only when expressions of unfinished time are present? –  Monica Apr 21 '13 at 14:18
2  
The present perfect continuous is in fact often used for actions that are no longer in progress. A simple example is: "Why are her eyes red? - She's been crying." (?She has cried.) As Swan in Practical English Usage says: "The present perfect progressive focuses on the action/situation itself, looking at it as a continuous extended activity (not necessarily finished). The simple present, on the other hand, looks more at the ideas of completion and present result." –  Shoe Apr 21 '13 at 15:15
1  
Actually, you're right. It's not that simple. Another example: You smell reeks of whisky! Have you been drinking? When the question is asked, the drinking has presumably already come to an end. Perhaps you should post a full-blown answer on the subject. –  Jubobs Apr 21 '13 at 17:15

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