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What's the difference between the following constructions of present perfect:

I've been waiting for you for seven years.

I've waited for you for seven years.

Googling yields no satisfying results. I also asked a native speaker and the one wasn't sure about the difference between the two, so I would like to know if there is any.

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related: Went to vs have been to –  Matt Эллен Aug 29 '12 at 9:32
1  
possible duplicate of How to use "have been —ing" –  Matt Эллен Aug 29 '12 at 9:33
    
possible duplicate of Present perfect for past action with present effect –  FumbleFingers Aug 31 '12 at 2:32

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am unaware of any difference between “I’ve been waiting for you” and “I have waited for you”. I would use these two completely interchangeably.

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In "I've been waiting for you for seven years" the focus is on the act of waiting. Maybe you want to emphasise how long seven years is, or make the listener understand how patient you have been.

In "I've waited for you for seven years" the focus is on the result of the wait. Now, perhaps you want to emphasis that the wait is over, or you are unwilling to wait any longer, or you are really angry now.

This gives a quick overview.

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The Have Been V+ing can actually focus on the activity, and it doesn't matter whether it has been finished or not. But with the Have P.P., how exactly do you propose to emphasize results when the action isn't completed? Have P.P. normally answers questions like: How many, How many times etc. –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 16:44
    
I have shown you numerous ways to talk about results of uncompleted actions (and I haven't finished - another PPS for uncompleted action). In what way is "She has written 7 novels, and another one is due next year" wrong. If you are going to say my examples are wrong, you really should say why. –  Roaring Fish Aug 23 '12 at 0:47
    
Of course any Have P.P. example with the added "but still..." will mean unfinished - a child can see what you're doing there. Can't you just make your examples with a Have P.P. and Have Been V+ing Verb and a full stop, then compare? So you'll finally see clearer? Your explanation is backwards from how most grammar books do it. As a matter of fact, your example i.e. "She has written 7 novels" is the prototypical example in grammar that ILLUSTRATES the COMPLETION of the action. How is it still my responsibility to clarify this basic point? –  Cool Elf Aug 23 '12 at 4:53

It's not "Have Been + Past Participle," which is the Present Perfect Passive.

It's actually "Have Been V+ing" also known as the Present Perfect Progressive or Present Perfect Continuous.

It is used for an activity that started in the past and still continues to the present.

On the other hand, the Present Perfect Simple (Have P.P.) is used for completed actions.

Simple examples would be:

Ex. Oh, are you ever gonna come back? I've been waiting for you for seven years!

while

Ex. I'm sorry. You're too late. I've waited for you for seven years and now I'm a married woman.

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Wouldn't plain old past simple " I'm sorry. You're too late. I waited for you for seven years and now I'm a married woman" be a better sentence? Present Perfect Simple is for an action until now, but it does not have to be completed. "I have ridden horses for 7 years" doesn't mean I no longer ride horses. That would be "I rode horses for 7 years". –  Roaring Fish Aug 22 '12 at 13:22
    
I can't understand you, @RoaringFish. In the link that you recommended to the OP, these points are very clearly expressed: (1) Whether teaching or learning the present perfect, it is often useful to present the two verb aspects in a contrastive way. (2) Both the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous relate a past action to the present, but the present perfect simple suggests a completed action and focuses more on achievements and results. –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 14:01
    
(3) When we use the present perfect continuous, however, there is usually a suggestion that the activity is not yet completed, or we wish to emphasise the length of time it has lasted or stress the continuous, on-going nature of the activity. –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 14:03
    
A suggestion is not a grammatical rules, as you state("Present Perfect Simple (Have P.P.) is used for completed actions"). It is a suggestion, nothing more. It is a suggestion because, as I said in my post, PPS focusses on the result, and a result usually implies completion - but not always. I have given you loads of examples of PPS for actions that are not complete. Which one of my examples is wrong? "J.K. Rowling has written seven novels" Has J.K. Rowling stopped writing? Is her writing action completed? –  Roaring Fish Aug 22 '12 at 15:58
    
Perhaps what you should consider is how you're gonna prepare the OP to grasp all of these things. This is why (from your link): "Whether teaching or learning the present perfect, it is often useful to present the two verb aspects in a contrastive way." You chose your own suggestion/ focus to follow and people chose theirs. But it would seem that, from your comments, you're contradicting your own source –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 16:33

To describe an action that has started in the past and is still continuing, you would say it in present perfect continuous tense. If the action has ended, you would say it in present perfect tense.

If your wait started seven years ago but you still are waiting, then you would say, “I have been waiting for seven years.” If you waited for seven years and you are done waiting and you are moving on now, you would say, “I have waited for seven years.”

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"He has lived in Paris for six years, and has no plans to leave" ~ Present perfect simple, but the action has not ended. –  Roaring Fish Aug 22 '12 at 12:25
    
That's because the verb "live" can use both Have P.P. and Have Been V+ing to mean continuing action –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 12:27
    
"He has driven his car 3000 miles, and he has 3000 more to go"; "He has woken up at 8 o'clock every morning for 20 years, and he has no plans to wake up at any other time"; "He has drunk beer since he was 16, and always will"; "So far this week, I have seen three movies, and there is another one tomorrow" ~ all present perfect simple, and still not completed actions. –  Roaring Fish Aug 22 '12 at 12:39
    
I can't understand you, @RoaringFish. In the link that you recommended to the OP, these points are very clearly expressed: (1) Whether teaching or learning the present perfect, it is often useful to present the two verb aspects in a contrastive way. (2) Both the present perfect simple and the present perfect continuous relate a past action to the present, but the present perfect simple suggests a completed action and focuses more on achievements and results. –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 14:06
    
Let me make the proper pair of examples for you: (1) In fifteen years, J.K.Rowling has written seven best sellers (full stop) (2) She has been writing novels since 1997. I patterned these sentences from the very link that you provided –  Cool Elf Aug 22 '12 at 17:11

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