Sometimes the present perfect continuous tense has the same meaning as the present perfect tense, and  it makes me feel confused. I don't know which one is the better to use. For example:

  1. Someone has eaten my chips.
  2. Someone has been eating my chips.
  • 1100 questions about present perfect and 190 about present perfect continuous. – rogermue Jul 9 '15 at 13:07

The present perfect is called "perfect" because the action is complete. Sometime in the past, some hungry and impolite person finished off your snack.

A continuous (or progressive) tense indicates an action spread out over time. In the case of the present perfect continuous, the ongoing action was ongoing in the past. So sometime over a past interval some hungry and impolite person helped himself to your snack. But at least there might be some chips left. If there are, you'll have to be careful to watch them because the pilfering might still continue.

  • Daddy Bear said: 'Someone has been sitting in my chair'. Mummy Bear said 'Someone has been sitting in my chair'. Baby Bear said 'Someone has been sleeping in my bed, and is still there'. - The first two are completed actions but still the continuous form is used. – WS2 Jul 9 '15 at 7:07
  • So, you mean there is no difference? – Sanjar Igamov Jul 9 '15 at 10:50
  • 1
    @WS2: "I used to do drugs. Still do, but used to, too." Baby Bear's statement is similar to the Mitch Hedberg quote. It's not the most correct way of stating it, it's used for prozaic or comedic effect. Baby Bear's sentence simply mimics that of its parents, and then specifies a difference from the previous statements. This is related to how the fairy tale has repeating statements for the bears, more than it's actually grammatically correct. – Flater Sep 7 '15 at 12:05
  • @Flater I agree. – WS2 Sep 7 '15 at 13:03
  • @SanjarIgamov as Flater indicates, one would not normally use the has been sleeping form for an uncompleted action. – WS2 Sep 7 '15 at 13:04

A good question. Someone has eaten my chips: perfect for fact. ( Someone is surprised that his chips are gone.) Someone has been eating my chips. In this case it has exactly the same meaning, but is has much more weight. This is no case of perfect/perfect continuous for action over a time span up to now.

Perfect can be used for news, for fact, and for continuous action over a time span up to now. The context and the situation decides which case it is.

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