I am taking a Mooc on grammar and punctuation on Coursera, and have been asked a question during a lecture:

Do these two sentences have similar meaning or different meaning?

Julie has studied French for two years.

Julie has been studying French for two years.

I thought the answer was : different meaning. In the first case, Julie has studied French for two years, but may not be studying it still. In the second case, if she has been studying for two years, it means that she is still studying it.

Weel, the answer was that the two sentences had the same meaning. It was not an error of correction in the quizz, as the teacher later explained:

These two sentences have pretty much the same meaning. A lot of times present perfect and present perfect progressive have the same meaning and can both be used.

And continued with:

Here is some other examples where the two sentences have about the same meaning.

Bart has lived in Ireland for two years.

Bart has been living in Ireland for two years.

Sofia has worked at Apple for four months.

Sofia has been working at Apple for four months.

Can someone explain this to me? Thank you!

  • The question itself is open to interpretation. It depends on how you interpret similar. The two sentences do not mean the same thing; however, their meaning is close. But the question should not be left open to an interpretation as to the specificity of similar (or pretty much). It should make it clear exactly what is required in an answer. – Jason Bassford Nov 22 '18 at 20:12

The present perfect progressive indicates continuation.

The first sentence tells us that Bart has lived in Ireland for two years, at some point. This sentence doesn't specify if Bart is still living there.

"Bart has lived in Ireland for two years."

The second sentence is more precise, in that it says Bart has lived in Ireland for two years and still lives there.

"Bart has been living in Ireland for two years."

Some people might say you must use the present perfect if Bill still lives there. Some Native English speakers would still use this tense, even if Bill was still living there. I can't, however, think of any situation where an native English speaker would say "has been living" if Bill was not still living in Ireland.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.