21 Fun Present Perfect Continuous Activities

By Alex Case
Stimulating activities for “has/have + been + v+ing” for actions connecting the past and the present, including Present Perfect Continuous games

Present Perfect Continuous is a tricky but surprisingly common tense that is well worth some practice on its own. This article gives 21 communicative ideas using just this tense. There are also ways to contrast it with Present Perfect Simple in another articles on this site.  

Present Perfect Continuous boasting game

Students try to find things that they have been doing for longer than their partner, e.g. “I’ve been learning English for over 35 years” and “I’ve been making TikTok videos for over three weeks”.

Present Perfect Continuous guessing games

Present Perfect Continuous action guessing game

Students give hints like “I’ve been doing this since I left home” and “My mother has been doing this since she got married” until their partner guesses what the action is (e.g. “cooking”).

One of the feelings games below also involves guessing the action.

Lengths of time warmer cooler guessing game

Students ask each other “How long have I been wearing this shirt?”, “How long has my grandmother been living in the same house?”, etc, and give hints like “slightly shorter” and “much longer” until their partner guesses exactly the right length of time.

Present Perfect Continuous feelings guessing games

Students can either guess how someone feels because of the (imaginary) action that they say they have been doing (“I’ve been painting the fence” “I guess you are feeling satisfied”) or guess the action from the feeling (“I’m feeling bored” “I guess you have been doing your homework”).

See Present Perfect Continuous Sentence Stem Activities below for one more guessing game.

Present Perfect Continuous miming games

Students can either compete to do the best mime or guess what other people are miming, from prompts on the worksheet or the board like “I’m sad because I’ve been watching a romantic movie” and “I’ve been waiting for ages”.

Present Perfect Continuous job interviews

Students ask “Can you…?” and their partner tries to answer with “Yes, I’ve been (using PowerPoint) for … years”. This is most fun as a bluffing game. Three possible lying games are:

  • having to answer “Yes” to all “Can you…?” questions
  • using cards with lengths of time on to answer all the questions
  • giving false answers to half of the questions.

Perhaps after follow-up questions, the other person then guesses which answers aren’t true.

Present Perfect Continuous bluffing games

Lying games are perfect for this grammar point, because they can make up for students’ lack of real personalised examples, and are naturally communicative without needing to put the grammar in a common conversational context. Some of the many possibilities for Present Perfect Continuous lying games are:

  • One person says how long they have been doing something (truly) and their partner gives a longer time for the same action (“I’ve been dating the same person for 15 years” “I’ve been dating the same person for 17 years”)
  • People take turns making (true or imaginary) personal Present Perfect Continuous sentences with verbs which are on the board or worksheet (which are a mix of ones which are probably not suitable for true sentences like “gambling on” and some which most people can make true sentences from like “living” and “studying”)
  • People take turns making (true or imaginary) personal Present Perfect Continuous sentences with time expressions which are on the board or worksheet (which have been chosen to be a mix of some which are probably not suitable for true sentences like “since this time yesterday” and “for exactly one year” and some which most people can probably make true sentences from like “for a long time” and “since my last vacation”)
  • Students make half of their statements true and half of their statements false
  • Students follow the “True” or “False” cards which they put on the table face down (perhaps with the rules of the card game “Liar”)
  • Students follow the (secret) flip of a coin to decide if the next statement is true (heads) or false (tails)
  • Students make a mix of true sentences about people they know (e.g. “My mother has been doing hot yoga since the 1970s”) and true sentences about people they know but with the person changed (e.g. “My grandfather…” replaced by “My nephew…” in “…has been using Facebook since the start of Coronavirus”)

In each case, the other person then guesses if the statement is true or false, perhaps after follow-up questions.

Another possibility is to start with true statements and make them all false, with students changing true statements so that only the subject, the verb, the object or the length of time has been changed. Their partner then guesses which bit is wrong and tries to guess the correct version.

Present Perfect Continuous things in common

It can be an interesting challenge to get students to make sentences that they share like “We’ve both been wearing these shoes since we left the house this morning” and “We’ve both been speaking our native languages since we were very young”.

Present Perfect Continuous sentence stem activities

Give students sentences with gaps to make personal Present Perfect Continuous sentences with like “I have been _____________ too much recently” and “I have been wearing these shoes since ________________________”. These can be used for bluffing games, for finding things in common and/ or for a guessing game where they read out just the bit that they have written and their partner tries to put that personal text into the correct sentence stem.

Good and taboo Present Perfect Continuous questions

Give students a mix of good small talk questions and more taboo questions with Present Perfect Continuous. The simplest activity is for students to ask each other good questions from the board or worksheet like “How long have you been coming here?” and try to avoid sensitive questions like “Have you been drinking too much recently?” You could also ask them to rank the questions from 1 (good even with strangers) to 5 (taboo with almost anyone). As a follow-up, they could then choose a number of points they want, with more points for answering trickier questions, but no points if they refuse to answer.

Present Perfect Continuous problem solving

Students ask each other advice for problems like “I’ve been arguing a lot with my teenage son recently” and “I’ve been seeing more and more cockroaches round the house”. They can then maybe make up similar problems from suggested topics, verbs or time expressions.

Present Perfect Continuous pelmanism

Students take two cards or choose two words or expressions from a worksheet and try to make a sentence from that verb and time, that feeling and verb, etc. For example, “looking” and “breakfast” could be put into the sentence “I’ve been looking for a nice mid-morning snack since I finished my breakfast”. To make this competitive, they could compete to make the best example with those two things.

Written by Alex Case for Teflnet September 2022
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic and the Teaching...: Interactive Classroom Activities series of business and exam skills e-books for teachers
© Teflnet

One Comment

  • Annabelle says:

    Thank you for this exercise. The tenses are very confusing to me, but this exercise was very helpful regarding The Present Perfect Continuous.

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