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Perfect Continuous Tenses on GMAT


This short video explains the use of present perfect continuous tenses, from the perspective of the GMAT sentence correction questions.


Perfect Continuous Tenses on GMAT

Perfect Continuous Tenses on GMAT


Tense is a topic that you must prepare very carefully, to score well on the GMAT sentence correction. It is particularly important to pay close attention to the perfect tense forms. While the simple tense forms are far more common, on the GMAT, the perfect tense forms pose a unique challenge. The perfect tense is only used under certain peculiar circumstances, making it difficult to identify exactly where it has been applied appropriately and inappropriately. In this short article, we will cover the form and use of the three perfect continuous tenses, on the GMAT.

Perfect Continuous Tenses


Perfect continuous tenses are marked by the use of "has/have/had+been", depending on which of the three tenses it is. The use of one of the words "has/have/had" reflect the perfect tense and the use of the word "been" reflects continuity. Now we will examine each of the three perfect continuous tenses, in detail.

Present Perfect Continuous


The present perfect continuous tense is used to indicate actions that began in the past and are ongoing in the present, meaning that the action began in the past and has not ended at the time of speaking. Let us illustrate this concept through the following example:

Example 1 - Jack has been learning to play the guitar for two years.
In this sentence, an action, Jack learning to play guitar, that began in the past, two years ago, is said to be ongoing in the present. Thus, the present perfect continuous is the correct tense for this situation.

Past Perfect Continuous


The past perfect continuous tense is used when there are two actions in a sentence that both continue over a period of time in the past but one is further in the past. Once again, we will explain this concept through an example.

Example 2 - Jack had been working hard on the proposal when the deal was called off by the management.
In this sentence, there are two continuous actions taking place, Jack working hard on the proposal and the deal being called off by the management. Both of these events take place in the past but Jack was working hard prior to the deal being called off. Thus, the past perfect continuous tense will be used to refer to this action.

Future Perfect Continuous Tense


The future perfect continuous tense is used to refer to an action that will continue over a period of time in the future. Please consider the following example:

Example 3 - By the time Mary graduates, Jack will have been learning to play the guitar.
In this sentence, the speaker speaks from the perspective of some point in the future, the time Mary graduates, to say that at that time there will be an ongoing event taking place, Jack learning to play guitar.

This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Sentence Correction videos.

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