Do you agree with the explanations to this question and statements?

Judy: How long have you been in Canada?

Claude: I have been studying here for more than three years.
OR I have studied here for more than three years.

  1. Depending on where the two friends meet in Canada or in another country, the question can imply that Claude is or is not in Canada at the moment.

  2. The first answer implies that Claude is still in Canada or was recently in Canada. (Maybe to suggest that he was in Canada recently it would be better to use ‘there’. I think ‘here’ suggests that the person is still in Canada.)

  3. The second answer implies that the person is not in Canada any more. The action is complete.

  • 3
    The question (Judy's) implies he's still in Canada. If he was no longer in Canada, Judy would have asked, "How long were you in Canada."
    – Jim
    Apr 14, 2013 at 19:13
  • 2
    Are you asking whether the tense can tell us if the action is complete or not? Because both tenses in this case normally suggest that the action continues until now and Claude is still in Canada. With that in mind, what exactly is the question?
    – fluffy
    Apr 14, 2013 at 20:46
  • Are the actions in Judy's question and Claude's answer complete or not? How long have you been in Canada? Claude: I have been studying here for more than three years. And 'I have studied here for more than three years.'
    – Monica
    Apr 15, 2013 at 8:22
  • 4
    The actions are not complete. He is still in Canada and he is still studying. Also, have you seen this question? It might help you with the present perfect.
    – fluffy
    Apr 15, 2013 at 23:15
  • I thought, since there are no expressions of unfinished time in the question then it means that the action is complete and that Claude is not living and studying in Canada. Thanks for the link. It's quite helpful.
    – Monica
    Apr 16, 2013 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


Both forms of the answer (perfect and perfect continuous) show that the man is still in Canada, but the continuous form puts greater stress on the continuous nature of the action. However, that said, I think the perfect continuous is what is required in the context here.


  • I read that book 3 years ago - preterite, or simple past - action well in the past.
  • I have read that book - perfect - the reading was in the past, but has present relevance. I have read it and now the knowledge in that book is available to me in the present.
  • I have been reading that book - I began a while ago, but the action is still not completed. I am still reading it.

or these:

  • I have lived in London for three years.
  • I have been living in London for three years. Both of these show the speaker is still living in London. The difference between these sentences is quite slight - with the second emphasising the continual aspect.

Sometimes, the choice of tenses, and whether to use a continuous tense, depends on what you are just about to say. "I have lived in London for three years, but now I want to go home": the decision hereby expressed to terminate your life in London in the near future dovetails more easily with the non-continuous tense. But in many of these cases, either/or would do.

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