Introduction to Dialogue 11
In this dialogue we often use 'been' to express what has 'happened' or 'been happening' in the recent past, in this case in the recent summer and early autumn.
'What have you been doing this summer?' 'We have been very busy'
'Have you been talking to your little grandson ?'
We use this 'present perfect progressive or continuous' to talk about actions that have happened in the recent past and are still going on or have only just recently stopped
'This summer we have been very busy' but 'Last summer we were very busy'
'I have been studying very hard this week' but 'I studied very hard for my exams last week'
We don't use 'has been' and 'have been' for actions firmly placed in the past.
Here are the main forms of the present perfect progressive
I have been...you have been....we have been.......they have been busy today
He, she, it has been busy this afternoon...
In conversation they may be shortened to ....I've been..you've been...we've been busy today
He's....she's...it's been busy this afternoon.
'Been' is also often used as a past participle of 'come' and 'go' for completed actions.
My son has been to stay here twice.....My son has come to stay here twice.
We have been to Venice twice....We have gone to Venice twice.
They have been to the cinema ......They have gone to the cinema.
Have you ever been to Poland before?....Have you ever come to Poland before?
Have you been following all this so far? Let's get on with the dialogue!
G Hi Clare! We have not been talking for a long time!
C What do you mean? I talk to you every day! We talk all the time!
G No! No! On the radio. Here in Colchester!
C Oh, yes of course! It has been a few months since we have been here. We have both been very busy over the summer and early autumn.
G Yes, we have. So what have you been doing? Lots of shopping I suppose.
C Why do you still keep saying that! It's you that likes shopping. A very sexist comment in this day and age!
G OK! OK! I apologise.
C Our son, who lives in China, has been here with his family to stay with us. We have been travelling around with them this summer. It has been a great summer!
G Have you been talking to your little grandson in Chinese?
C I tried. I have been learning Mandarin for several years but it's very difficult. Pronunciation is hard. I need to listen to my dialogues again and again and then I often forget, but I keep trying. I'm not young, as you keep reminding me, and it's good for my brain. I listen on my MP3 player as I'm cooking, washing and doing the housework.... it's difficult to find the time to sit down and study.
G You also listen to and talk to yourself in Mandarin in the gym. I've been watching you sometimes.You've been getting some odd looks but you don't seem to care!
C I don't care. I can learn Mandarin, exercise, cook and clean.... all at the same time. I'm a woman. I can multi-task. I've been doing several things at once for years!
G Now who is making sexist remarks.
C OK! Let's talk about what we have been doing this summer and autumn.
We went to the Peak District in central England to meet up with our other son and his family who live in the north of England . In late July we went to Italy for two weeks. In September we visited Cornwall in south-west England and flew to Spain on a last minute cheap package holiday. It has been a very busy time. We have been doing a lot.
G Have we been to Italy before?
C Yes. We have visited Italy a few times. We've been to Venice twice. Very beautiful and romantic!
G Don't forget that we have also been to Rome and Sorrento........and I've been to Milan with our sons to watch Ipswich Town play football.
C Yes....I remember very well. The local Suffolk radio also went to Milan for the football match. They interviewed you in Milan and asked you if you were going to buy a present for your wife left behind in England! You said no! All our friends in Suffolk heard you.
G I don't like shopping! I went to watch football!
C Some things don't change! Never mind. It has been a lovely summer and we have been very happy to see our family, .....our sons, our daughter-in-laws and our two grandchildren.
G........and we are sorry that we have been away for so long.
C Yes. It's been a long time. Autumn is now here and it will soon be winter. We are going to talk about that next time.
Review of Dialogue 11
The use of the ' present past continuous' can be confusing but the basic rule is that if an action has happened in the past and is still ongoing or very recently ongoing, this tense may be used. As in all conversations, tenses will be interchanged
Where have you been working? Oh.... .I work in Sainsbury's. I've been working there two years. I like it. I've been busy but I'm quite happy. Three weeks ago I became a manager.
All replies using both the 'present' and 'present past continuous' imply that you are still there! The promotion to manager happened at a fixed time so the past perfect was used.