We use this sentence pattern to show how long an action or event has continued. We only use it for things that started in the past and are still happening in the present. The action or event is not finished or completed.
- I have been living here for 5 years.
(=I have lived here for 5 years.)
We usually use continuous forms verbs (eating, playing, sleeping, etc.) when the action or event is short term.
- She has been sleeping for 5 hours.
- They have been talking for a couple of hours.
- They have been fighting all day.
Use "for + total time" and "since + starting time". We can use either one to express the same thing. For example, if it is currently 5 p.m., then we can use both of these sentences.
Subject + have/has been + present participle + for/since...
- She has been sleeping since 2 p.m.
- She has been sleeping for 3 hours.
- I have been living in Korea for 8 years.
- I have been traveling for 2 weeks.
- She has been working here for 4 years.
- He has been crying for an hour.
- They have been fighting since this afternoon.
- I have been crying since I heard the news.
- She has been watching TV since 10 am.
- They have been cooking dinner for 2 hours.
We do not always need to use a specific time.
Bonus Tips and Points
- I have been doing yoga for a long time.
- We have been spending time together for a few months.
- They have been preparing for the test for quite a while.
- He has been crying since I got here.
- I have been thinking about moving to New York since I visited my friend there last summer.
- She has been thinking about it since she received the offer.
1. We can also use continuous verbs with long-term actions "work" and "live", but it is more common to say "have lived" or "have worked".
- I have lived in New York for 5 years.
(=I have been living in New York for 5 years.)
- I have worked here for 1 month.
(=I have been working here for 1 month.)
2. Remember that is better to use "have/has been + present participle" for short term.
- I have been studying for 3 hours.
- They have been playing the piano since the morning.
And use "have/has + past participle" for long-term things.
Real-World English Conversations
- I have studied English for 20 years.
- They have played the piano since they were 5 years old.
A) How long have you lived in this neighborhood?
B) I have only been living here for a couple months.
A) You are a great swimmer.
B) Thanks. It's because I have been practicing a lot these days.
A) How long have you been waiting for her to call?
B) I've been waiting for over an hour.
A) How long have you been living with your parents?
B) I've been living with them since my father got sick. So, two years.
A) How long have you been a vegetarian?
B) I have been avoiding meat for over 1 year now.
A) How long have you been working here?
B) I have been working here since I graduated from university. So, that means I have been working here for over 10 years. Use these free English lessons to learn the most common sentence patterns in the English language. If you learn these sentences and questions, it will help you speak English well. Study the lessons thoroughly, practice making your own sentences, and come back to review often. If you do these three steps, your English speaking will improve quickly and you will be able to have natural English conversations.