Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

a. They have been throwing papers.

b. They have been throwing papers since the teacher left.

Does the sentence (a) have the same meaning as sentence (b), even though the period of time is not stated in sentence (a)? Or is it that sentence (a) can only mean that they threw the paper and have stopped now?

share|improve this question
    
The most important thing to note is that in both cases, it is implied that the throwing of paper in the past has some impact on the present (ie: they are still rowdy or are still throwing papers, or there is paper all over the classroom, etc.) –  snumpy Apr 19 '11 at 19:23
add comment

2 Answers 2

They basically mean the same thing, but:

A- Both could mean that the action is finished at the time of utterance's production.

Present Perfect Continuous has 2 uses:

  1. The action started in the past and has stopped recently or just stopped and the results are visible now. (You're late! What have you been doing?)
  2. The action started in the past and is continuing now. (We've been working a lot. It's time to stop for a cup of tea.)

B- Only the second one says when the action started being explicit about it.

(The examples provided are taken from my personal grammar, so you know they're correct.)

share|improve this answer
1  
I don't agree that either of them means that the action has stopped. –  Colin Fine Apr 19 '11 at 13:53
    
Uhm, re-checking everything I think in this case it's ambiguous, I'll edit my answer. Thanks for pointing it out. –  Alenanno Apr 19 '11 at 17:49
add comment

The first one more likely means that they've stopped now. The second implies that they are still throwing papers.

Compare it with rain:

It has been raining here.

It has been raining here since last week.

The second makes me feel that it's still raining; the first doesn't.

share|improve this answer
2  
If I imagine this telephone dialogue : A: How is the weather over there today? B: It has been raining. I wouldn't be able to say whether it is still raining now where B is. –  z7sg Ѫ Apr 19 '11 at 11:06
    
@z7sg: I agree that it could still be raining in either case; but I feel this is a bit more likely with a "since x", somehow. –  Cerberus Apr 19 '11 at 11:39
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.