Study these example situations:

  1. Donald’s clothes are covered in paint. He has been painting the ceiling.
Donald’s clothes are covered in paint. He has been painting the ceiling. - Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Donald’s clothes are covered in paint. He has been painting the ceiling.

 

Has been painting is the present perfect continuous.

We are interested in the activity. It does not matter whether something has been finished or not. In this example, the activity (painting the ceiling) has not been finished.

 

2. The ceiling was white. Now it is blue. She has painted the ceiling.

The ceiling was white. Now it is blue. She has painted the ceiling. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
The ceiling was white. Now it is blue. She has painted the ceiling.

 

Has painted is the present perfect simple.

Here, the important thing is that something has been finished. “Has painted” is a completed action. We are interested in the result of the activity (the painted ceiling), not in the activity itself.

Compare these examples:

  • My hands are very dirty. I’ve been repairing the car.
My hands are very dirty. I’ve been repairing the car. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
My hands are very dirty. I’ve been repairing the car.

 

  • The car is OK again now. I’ve repaired it.
The car is OK again now. I’ve repaired it. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
The car is OK again now. I’ve repaired it.

 

  • She’s been smoking too much recently. She should smoke less.
She’s been smoking too much recently. She should smoke less. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
She’s been smoking too much recently. She should smoke less.

 

  • Somebody has smoked all my cigarettes. The packet is empty.
Somebody has smoked all my cigarettes. The packet is empty. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Somebody has smoked all my cigarettes. The packet is empty.

 

  • It’s nice to see you again. What have you been doing since we last met?
It’s nice to see you again. What have you been doing since we last met? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
It’s nice to see you again. What have you been doing since we last met?

 

  • Where’s the book I gave you? What have you done with it?
Where’s the book I gave you? What have you done with it? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Where’s the book I gave you? What have you done with it?

 

  • Where have you been? Have you been playing tennis?
Where have you been? Have you been playing tennis? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Where have you been? Have you been playing tennis?

 

  • Have you ever played tennis?
Have you ever played tennis? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Have you ever played tennis?

 

We use the continuous to ask or say how long (for an activity that is still happening):

  • How long have you been reading that book?
How long have you been reading that book? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
How long have you been reading that book?

 

We use the simple to ask or say how much, how many or how many times (completed actions):

  • How many pages of that book have you read?
How many pages of that book have you read? - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
How many pages of that book have you read?

 

  • Lucy is still writing letters. She’s been writing letters all day.
Lucy is still writing letters. She’s been writing letters all day. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Lucy is still writing letters. She’s been writing letters all day.

 

  • Mary has written ten letters today.
Mary has written ten letters today. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
Mary has written ten letters today.

 

  • They’ve been playing tennis since 3 o’clock.
They’ve been playing tennis since 3 o’clock. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
They’ve been playing tennis since 3 o’clock.

 

  • They’ve played tennis four times this week.
They’ve played tennis four times this week. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
They’ve played tennis four times this week.

 

There are some verbs (for example, know/like/believe) that are normally not used in the continuous:

  • I’ve known about it for a long time. (not “I’ve been knowing”)
I’ve known about it for a long time. - English Grammar - Present Perfect Continuous and Simple
I’ve known about it for a long time.