Please help me to identify the difference between these two sentences

  1. This building has always attracted many tourists.
  2. This building has been attracting many tourists.

1 Answer 1


The difference is subtle. The first means simply that tourists visit the building and have done so since it was built. In fact, it is pretty much equivalent to saying:

This building attracts many tourists.

The second has the connotation that the building's becoming a tourist attraction is the result of some changed situation, or a recent phenomenon, or unexpected. For example:

Justin Beiber lived here for a few months when he was a baby. Since he became a big star, this building has been attracting many tourists.

The redesign has been very effective. After its completion, this building has been attracting many tourists.

There are other questions on this site about the present perfect and the present perfect continuous. As you will see from the other questions, the difference between the two is subtle and hard to explaint to non-native speakers.

The question you have asked raises yet another subtlety that (as far as I can tell) hasn't come up in the others, as it provides an interesting example where the present perfect is closer to the simple present than to the present perfect continuous. That makes it different from the other questions, and I found it very interesting to think about.

  • Good answer, as you say looking at points not covered before, but I think the questions need combining. Jan 22, 2017 at 8:58
  • @EdwinAshworth I first flagged this as a dupe. But on thinking about it more, I decided this is a really neat question, so I essayed an answer. The five others I linked to in my answer are difficult because of the inherent difficulty of the distinction, but not that interesting. This one raises a unique point. I'm sad it got closed as a dupe.
    – verbose
    Jan 22, 2017 at 9:09
  • It would be nice to know who Community is. Jan 22, 2017 at 15:59

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