Introduction to Dialogue 18
We have looked at the ‘present perfect continuous’ in previous dialogues. In this conversation we are once again talking about events in the recent past. Some of these are recurring events (that have happened several times) and are likely to recur or happen again so it is natural to frequently use the ‘present perfect continuous’.
The ‘present perfect continuous’ also known as the ‘present perfect progressive’ is also often used ….
- to talk about people's use of their time up to the present
- to talk about actions and events which started in the past and are still ongoing
- to talk about actions and events that have only just stopped and have present effects
Here are various examples from the dialogue
So what exactly have we been doing?……..use of our time up to the present.
It has been a recurring nightmare!…….a recurring action and it’s still ongoing!
You’ve been talking about it ever since you came back…….and you are still talking about it
There are also a one or two colloquial phrases…
- hanging on for dear life……
In this context I am actually hanging on to my husband but it can also be used to imply that you are desperately struggling and trying to keep something going….for example to keep a struggling business going…….. He is trying to keep the business going but is hanging on for dear life
- it’s a nightmare
Again I am really having recurring nightmares (bad dreams) but this phrase is frequently used to describe a bad situation…….They keep digging up the road outside my house… It’s a nightmare!
Listen out for the shortened forms of the verbs……
I have been ……I’ve been
It has been……It’s been
We have been….We’ve been
You have been….You’ve been
They have been….They’ve been
Dialogue 18 Catching up
G. Good Morning Clare. So…. what have we been doing since we last spoke on the radio?
C. It’s been a while since we were here. We have been visiting relatives. Both our sons have small children now and we’ve been staying with them. It’s been a long time since we recorded any conversations (or arguments) .
G. I know……. It has been a busy time. Since we retired we have been travelling a great deal and have not spent much time at home. We have been filling our days with family and travel. It’s a much easier life in retirement. We have the opportunity to spend so much time together. It’s great!
C. Yes. ….. Retirement does have advantages and disadvantages!
G. So what exactly have we been doing?
C. Well we’ve been spending a lot of time with family as you said earlier. We have been to China twice, visiting our son Anthony who lives over there with his family. We went just before Christmas, flying to Shanghai and a few days later, flying to Thailand for a Christmas holiday in the sunshine.
G. Yes. Shanghai can be cold and misty in the winter so it was good that we went somewhere warm. Did you like my driving in Thailand?
C. Driving? Oh….you mean riding on the motor bike?
G. Yes! We have been trying new things in our old age! You rode pillion on the back ! It was nice to do something different. We have been looking for adventure and new challenges!
C. Well it was certainly different and very challenging. I spent most of the time hanging onto you for dear life and looking out for the large potholes in the road. I have been dreaming about it ever since!
G. Oh come on! You are such a misery! You know you enjoyed it. You’ve been talking about it ever since we came back. It has been one of your favourite stories about our travels. You never miss an opportunity to tell people about it!
C. Well that’s one way of putting it! Actually it has been a recurring nightmare! Let’s talk about something else that we have been doing these last few months.
G. We’ve been skiing again. Not in China but in Austria. This time there were no accidents! Last time my sister broke her collarbone and you probably cracked a rib or two.
C. I still dream about that as well. It has been another of my recurring bad dreams…..getting lost and falling over in the mist and thick snow. ….still no accidents this time.
G. Do you ever have any nice dreams?
C. I only remember the bad ones.
G .What about swimming in the sea with little Scarlet?
C. Brilliant! We have been swimming in the sea several times at Frinton the last two weeks. It’s a lovely sandy, flat beach and great for all the family. Our granddaughter loved it. She could run around and splash in the sea safely and play on the sand. We have been going there ever since our own children were little.
G. Have you enjoyed the garden? It’s really looking good at the moment!
C. Yes….We’ve been spending a lot of time in the garden…..pulling out the weeds, cutting down the overgrown ivy and putting new plants in the pots. It’s only a small garden but it’s a real pleasure to sit in now. We’ve been eating outside in the garden at every opportunity…..breakfast, lunch and evening meal!
G. Well ….we have been at home for a few weeks now - time to go away perhaps?
C. We’ve been away too much this year so I think we need a bit of time at home now!
G. At least we were home to vote in the election. That was interesting…..
C. Interesting is not the word I would use! We don’t discuss politics on the radio otherwise people will turn off. That’s another recurring nightmare!
G. You're right of course……as always.
Dialogue 18 Review
As stated in the introduction in everyday conversation you are very likely to use the present perfect progressive to look back over recent events that still still ongoing or have only just finished.
What have you been doing this morning? …I’ve been trying to finish writing this report.
However notice the repeated use of the simple past or past simple in this different response..
What have you been doing this morning?….Well…..At 9am I started my report, went out to an important meeting, returned to the office, made several phone calls and just managed to finish the report before lunch.
These are a list of finished completed actions so the past simple used!