Which of the following sentences is correct:

  1. Cindy's very pleased with herself. She has finally given up smoking. She's (she has) been trying to give up for years.

  2. Cindy's very pleased with herself. She has finally given up smoking. She'd (she had) been trying to give up for years.

I think #1 is correct if Cindy has just given up now - the present moment. #2 would be correct if she had given a few days ago (in the recent past). My student disagrees with me and I can't convince him. Am I correct?

  • 1
    I can live with #1 if she's just now given it up. Otherwise #2. And yet colloquially I think you'll hear a lot of #1 regardless of the precise timing. (Somehow I feel as though #1 used some time after the fact introduces some doubt about the finality, as if she's still trying, but I don't think people would mean it that way.)
    – RJH
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 7:02
  • Either will work. I'd probably use #1,in this particular scenario, or in any where "she" has only been abstinent for a short period (days/weeks), since smoking cessation is not a yes/no thing.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 13:53

5 Answers 5


First point is correct when she is still at it, i.e., still trying to quit that habit.

Second point is correct when she has quit smoking and now her trying part is in the past.

Both are used interchangeably in everyday speech.


The latter is correct if she has given up smoking. The former would have been correct if she's still trying.

Moreover, when we translate it into Urdu Language which I speak more often, #2 sounds better.

And also if you try to say #1 and #2, the Latter will sound better to your ears.


Both are fine, but they have slightly different meanings.

The first sounds like Cindy kept trying to give up until she succeeded (as it were :) ).

The second sounds like Cindy tried to give up, stopped trying to give up, then made another (finally successful) attempt.


I'm not sure but I believe present perfect continuous is used for actions that started in the past and continue in the present. As you mentioned that 'she has finally given up smoking', I believe that she doesn't need to try to stop anymore because she was finally able to stop smoking. In connection with past perfect continuous being used for actions that was completed in some point in the past (began in the past, continued in the past, ended at a defined point in the past), I think the second one is correct.


As you mentioned she's been trying for years that means your statement refer to past,and the process is still going on so process not yet finish that means HAS is correct.

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