Why aren't you allowed to say "I have been knowing her for ten years" or "It has been broadcasting for many years"? But you are allowed to say "I have been waiting for an hour".

  • 6
    You can say: "The BBC has been broadcasting for many years" but not "Desert Island Discs has been broadcasting for many years"; it's "Desert Island Discs has been broadcast for many years".
    – Hugo
    Nov 29, 2011 at 13:11
  • @Hugo: Yeah, but why? OP's question begins with a Why! :)
    – Kris
    Nov 30, 2011 at 10:47
  • @Theta30: "have" is not past tense. "Have been" is present perfect.
    – RegDwigнt
    Nov 30, 2011 at 11:13
  • @Kris: Just sayin', s'all! Comments are for comments, answers are for answers :)
    – Hugo
    Nov 30, 2011 at 11:53
  • Which answer has the OP found useful? What are the views of @user101579?
    – Kris
    Jan 2, 2012 at 4:31

4 Answers 4


Knowing happens but once -- unlike waiting, you don't stretch the process of knowing someone over an extended period. It happens at a moment of time. That is why, I suppose.

You could, on the other hand, be getting to know the person better over ten years.

  • Although this is the case with "to know", the verb "to believe" (something which is often stretched over time) is similarly rarely used in the continuous form - We don't say "I'm believing in God"; and "to have" (meaning "to own") - we don't say "Jay Leno is owning a hundred cars".
    – Matt
    Nov 30, 2011 at 7:31

Many words describing senses and emotions tend not to be used in the progressive/continuous form. Although many such verbs are either so abstract as to make temporal distinction unnecessary, or relate to a single instance (as Kris points out with "know") it isn't the case with all of them.

Such verbs are called stative (or state) verbs and include: like, love, believe, have (when used to mean "to own") and taste.

There's a complete list here: http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com/stative-verbs.html


It’s because know describes a state of mind rather than an action, and such verbs are rarely found with a progressive construction. They are generally verbs which describe perception, emotion and thinking.

Broadcast is not a good example, because, as Hugo has explained, it can take a progressive construction.


“[Subject] has/have been [verb]ing” is a construction called the present perfect continuous.¹ It describes an ongoing or continuous action which began in the past and continued until now. As Barrie says (he calls it by another name, the progressive), this construction is typically used for actions, not states of mind.

I have been knowing her for ten years.

There is only one sense of know which describes an action, not a state of mind: the archaic (Biblical) sense “to have sexual intercourse with”.² Consequently, some of your readers will wonder if you have been having sex with her for the last ten years.

This confusion is why you should probably avoid the progressive construction in that example.

It has been broadcasting for many years.

Nothing wrong here, assuming you mean to describe the ongoing action of broadcasting. It should refer back to something which is capable of broadcasting continuously, such as a radio station.

I have been waiting for an hour.

Nothing wrong here either. This sentence describes the ongoing or continuous action of waiting.

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