present perfect continuous in songs u know

present perfect continuous is used to  indicate something happening from a point in the past until the present, and it may continue into the future.  the structure consists of the auxiliary verb have/has + the past participle been +the -ing form of another verb.  it is often used with since, to refer to a specific point in the past, like in the rockin song ball and chain by social distortion. at 3:00 the lyrics say

well, i passed a bar on the way to my dingy hotel room

i spent all my money, i been drinkin since half past noon

dingy means dark and dirty. half past noon is 12:30 pm.

the phrase originally is i’ve been drinkin, but the reduction of the “v” sound is very common in spoken english, especially in popular music. listen for it in the rest of these songs as well.


present perfect continuous is frequently used with for to refer to duration. at 2:05 in stevie wonder‘s song that girl, listen for

i’ve been hurting for a long time, and you’ve been playing for a long time
u know it’s true

i’ve been holding for a long time, and you’ve been running for a long time, it’s time to do what we have to do

and then at 3:30

she says her love has been crying out
but her lover hasn’t heard
but what she doesn’t realize is that I’ve listened to every word

realize in english is NOT usually the same as realizar in spanish. realize means recognize, notice, become aware.


phil collins talks about waiting for an even longer time than stevie wondercollins’ song in the air tonight is part of a very memorable scene in the hangover. mike tyson sings  these lyrics right after the unmistakable drum solo (tyson’s favorite part) at :15

i can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord

and i’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, oh lord 

the end of the vid includes an example of the phrasal verb fucked up as part of the explanation phil (bradley cooper) gives as to why he and his friends stole tyson’s tiger.


but for is not always about duration.

the 2007 disney movie enchanted opens with the song true love’s kiss.

the chorus appears for the  first time at :30 and includes the lyric

i’ve been waiting for a true love’s kiss


and the chorus of rasmus‘ song in the shadows is

i’ve been watching
i’ve been waiting
in the shadows all my time
i’ve been searching
i’ve been living for tomorrows all my life

cool english practice :) richyrocks on youtube

here are 5 more songs from various genres that contain present perfect continuous.

the chorus of guns n roses‘ song about heroin use, mr. brownstone, says

we’ve been dancin’ with
mr. brownstone
he’s been knockin’
he won’t’ leave me alone


one republic‘s huge hit counting stars has examples in the chorus too

lately, i’ve been, i’ve been losing sleep
dreaming about the things we could be
but baby, i’ve been, i’ve been praying hard
said no more counting dollars
we’ll be, we’ll be counting stars

pray means ask a god for help.


dej loaf‘s been on my grind, like one republic’s song, mentions issues with sleeping at 1:00

 i ain’t been getting no sleep

ain’t been is an informal way to express present perfect in the negative. it can replace both hasn’t and haven’t.

dej uses present perfect continuous again at :47 when she repeats several times

i been grinding

and at 1:08

mama, i been road runnin

grinding is working hard. according to urban dictionaryroad running is making money on the streets, hustling, mainly selling drugs, but in this context it sounds like she is on tour promoting her music (the next line is i just signed a few deals and the shows coming).

at 1:15 dej raps about the competitive nature of her lifestyle

i can’t let a bitch catch me, fuck a runner up

this gives the idea that dej sees herself as winning and she won’t accept second place (runner up).

roadrnner running from coyote

roadrunner ain’t gonna let a bitch catch him. fuck a runner up.


the tyrese song baby boy (that features snoop dogg) has this line in the chorus that also talks about street life

u just a baby boy
you’re not the real mccoy
i’ve been runnin’ these streets

run in this case means be in control.  the real mccoy is an expression that refers to authenticity. you’re not the real mccoy means u are fake, false.


and the clash track police on my back talks about staying away from the cops (police).  at :20 the lyric is

i’ve been hiding

and the chorus chants

i’ve been runnin’ monday, tuesday, wednesday
thursday, friday, saturday, sunday

which song is your favorite? which is the most memorable example of present perfect continuous? share your selections under leave a reply





have fun, amigos.

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