1

Which sentence is grammatically correct?

"I've been really busy these days"

OR

"I'm really busy these days"

I may be wrong but for some reason it feels funny to use "these days" with the present perfect tense since, to me, "I've been really busy" implies that "I'm not that busy anymore", which is in contrast with what the phrase "these days" implies (= "I'm still busy"). Am I wrong?

P.S. I have asked this question to some native speakers of English and I got some contradictory answers. Could it be a regional thing?

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  • 1
    "I have been really busy these last few days" works, but I'd consider "I have been really busy these days" unacceptable. Aug 20, 2020 at 16:12
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    I would hesitate to call it ungrammatical, but it is certainly infelicitous. One might hear it spoken, but I wouldn't want to see it in writing.
    – Pax
    Aug 20, 2020 at 22:32

3 Answers 3

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According to OALD this expression is used to speak about the present, that is, an ongoing present, taken to begin a little before true present and considered to continue similarly in the future.

  • (informal) used to talk about the present, especially when you are comparing it with the past
    These days kids grow up so quickly.
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The term these days is informal enough that its meaning can be stretched slightly to mean recently as well as the dictionary definitions of now or at present. Obviously

I've been really busy now

would be incorrect, but

I've been really busy recently

is fine. Pedants may insist on the dictionary definitions, which would constrain it use, but

I've been really busy these days

seems to be acceptable to me. One can easily infer the intended meaning from the tense of the verb.

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  • "I'm really busy these days" is my choice, and I find "I've been really busy these days" jarring. I haven't consulted a dictionary (and I'm pretty sure looking for 'have been really busy these days' would be fruitless) so I'll keep my opinions to 'comments'. Aug 20, 2020 at 16:25
  • @EdwinAshworth Each to his own, and I always value your input. My opinion is that we shouldn't rush to ascribe precise meanings to informal phrases. If we use these days to mean recently often enough, it will appear in the dictionaries eventually. There are worse abuses of our language, innit?
    – Mick
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:31
  • Worse things than giving opinions / preferences as answers? You mean no pickled red cabbage with the meat and potato pie tonight? Aug 20, 2020 at 16:37
  • @EdwinAshworth My opinions are all I have to offer.
    – Mick
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:44
  • You're barred from research? Aug 20, 2020 at 16:51
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"These days" is an adverbial phrase and equivalent to "lately/recently". If you can say "lately/recently", you can say "these days".

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  • I'd accept 'Dejected, he sat by the roadside' but not 'sad, he sat by the roadside'. I'm happy neither with 'I've been really busy these days', nor with your use of logic (with hidden and unproven assumptions). Aug 20, 2020 at 16:18
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    @EdwinAshworth I'm afraid that 'Sad, he sat by the roadside'. is perfectly grammatical. If you refer to Thought Co thoughtco.com/free-modifier-grammar-1690807 you will be rewarded with the information you need. There are no hidden and unproven assumptions - this is basic ELL grammar. >Adverbial genitive - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_possessive
    – Greybeard
    Aug 20, 2020 at 16:26
  • I'm afraid that many follow Orwell in seeing grammaticality as not the only, indeed not the main, factor in assigning acceptability. I'd mark 'Colorless green ideas sleep furiously' wrong in many contexts. Aug 21, 2020 at 12:00

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