EN: It hasn't rained for ages

taratata_69

Member
french
Hello,

In the sentence from an english grammar test : The ground is much too dry. It hasn't _____ for ages.

I don't understand why the correct answer is "it hasn't rained for ages" and not "it hasn't been raining for ages"

Because one of the use of the Present perfect continuous is "a past activity that has caused a present result" or " an activity that began in the past and is continuing now".

Or maybe "it hasn't been raining" is not supposed to be an activity?

Thank your explanation.
 
  • LV4-26

    Senior Member
    "a past activity that has caused a present result" or " an activity that began in the past and is continuing now".
    You could say exactly the same of the ("non continuous") present perfect. The difference between them is elsewhere.

    In this context, both sound correct to me.
    However, since the emphasis is rather on the fact that the action just didn't take place, I'd opt for hasn't rained.
     
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    moustic

    Senior Member
    British English
    No, the present perfect -ing form in the negative doesn't really work here.
    It hasn't rained ... is the correct sentence.
    On the other hand, in the affirmative "it has been raining for ages" would be perfect.
    The reason is probably that the "present result" + continuing action are more evident in this case.
     

    flyingcabbage

    Senior Member
    English - Ireland
    It has been raining for ages = Il a commencé à pleuvoir il y a longtemps et il n'a pas encore arrêté. Donc, "It hasn't been raining for ages" serait l'inverse de cela. Il ne sonne pas très naturel. Peut-être dans une conversation comme ceci:
    A: "I'm bored of staying in the house! It has been raining for ages!"
    B: "Stop exaggerating! It hasn't been raining for ages, it only started twenty minutes ago!"

    It hasn't rained for ages = Il n'y a pas eu de la pluie depuis longtemps.

    J'espère que cela t'aide!
     

    thedov

    Senior Member
    English - London England
    You wouldn't use the continuous tense because the raining is a series of complete events. It's the same as:
    There hasn't been an outbreak of rain.
    The continuous would be used for one unfinished activity.
     

    Nicomon

    Senior Member
    Français, Québec ♀
    Hello,

    I would also opt for "It hasn't rained".
    Another option to translate this would be : Ça fait une éternité qu'il n'a pas plu/qu'il n'y a pas eu de pluie.

    I think - someone will correct if I'm wrong - that "it hasn't been raining for days" would be in French :
    Ça fait une éternité qu'il ne pleut pas. (and that doesn't sound exactly right)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Well, as Moustic says above we wouldn't have the perfect continuous in the negative (it hasn't been raining for ages) at all in normal circumstances. The only time I can think of, as Moustic said, is to contradict someone who has used the affirmative form "it has been raining for days" with "no it hasn't been raining for days!"

    With this one rather particular exception aside, I think the test is really trying to teach the generalisation that you don't use the perfect continuous in the negative.

    Ps - lamy08 il n'a pas plu_ surely?
     
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    Nicomon

    Senior Member
    Français, Québec ♀
    Thanks timpeac,

    What I was trying to convey is that what I think a translation of the present continuous in the negative would be in French doesn't sound right in French either (at least not to my ears).

    I understood perfectly the counter example that flyingcabbage gave in #4 B. And this, in French, would be (roughly) :
    T'exagères toujours/Arrête donc d'exagérer! Ça ne fait pas une éternité qu'il pleut; ça fait à peine vingt minutes.

    So... we're in agreement.
     
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    elm11

    Member
    English - US
    With this one rather particular exception aside, I think the test is really trying to teach the generalisation that you don't use the perfect continuous in the negative.
    But we do use the perfect continuous in the negative:

    I haven't been sleeping well lately.
    He hasn't been going to class.
    They haven't been taking their vitamins.

    These examples all concern recent activity, or lack of activity. In fact, you could say "It hasn't been raining much lately." As for the original question, flyingcabbage's answer is perfect.

    This page may be helpful: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfectcontinuous.html
     

    Oddmania

    Senior Member
    French
    The things is (methinks), it's not usually used with a duration (He hasn't been doing this for 3 hours...) or a starting point (since...). It's actually the same in French, it's quite logical :)

    You can say Il travaille depuis 3 heures but not Il ne travaille pas depuis 3 heures (unless, as Flyingcabbage pointed out, you're trying to disprove what someone else is saying : N'exagère pas! Il ne travaille pas depuis 3 heures, il travaille depuis seulement 5 minutes!)
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    The things is (methinks), it's not usually used with a duration (He hasn't been doing this for 3 hours...) or a starting point (since...).
    Actually, you can say I haven't been sleeping well for the past few days or He hasn't been going to class since the accident. And staying closer to taratata_69's example, you can say It hasn't been raining for half an hour, which has two meanings:
    1. Il ne pleut pas depuis une demi-heure (mais depuis deux heures déjà / mais depuis seulement 5 minutes).
    2. Il ne pleut plus depuis une demi-heure (mais avant, il pleuvait).
    In this case, I would not say It hasn't rained for half an hour or Il n'a pas plu (or Il n'a plus plu) depuis une demi-heure.

    So I agree with elm11: The perfect continuous can be used in the negative, and the negative perfect continuous can be used with a duration phrase referring to the recent past. The degree of recency required depends on the context/situation.

    By the way, the following threads in English Only may be helpful:
    I haven't been eating properly
    Help with Present Perfect Progressive
    Negative Present Perfect (Continuous)
    we haven't been doing
    perfect simple VS perfect continuous (negative)
     
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    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    But we do use the perfect continuous in the negative:

    I haven't been sleeping well lately.
    He hasn't been going to class.
    They haven't been taking their vitamins.

    These examples all concern recent activity, or lack of activity. In fact, you could say "It hasn't been raining much lately." As for the original question, flyingcabbage's answer is perfect.

    This page may be helpful: http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/presentperfectcontinuous.html
    Yes, sorry I was too general - I meant not used with the perfect continuous within the context of duration (unless you're contradicting a (sometimes unexpressed) positive).

    Actually, you can say I haven't been sleeping well for the past few days or He hasn't been going to class since the accident.
    You can use it in these sentences, but this is really repetition rather than duration. To contrast the repetition in I haven't been sleeping well for the past few days - you wouldn't say (at least I wouldn't) on getting up in the morning "I haven't been sleeping well all night!" where duration is meant. In the class example in the repetition implies that normally he should have been going every day/week or some repeated occurrence.

    As such for me It hasn't been raining for half an hour is only acceptable as a contradiction of someone claiming the positive -
    - it's been raining for an hour!
    - no it hasn't been raining for an hour, it's been raining for half an hour!

    so the 1 interpretation would be fine to me, the 2 interpretation odd (I would say "it hasn't rained for half an hour"), again the contradiction interpretation notwithstanding.
     
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    CapnPrep

    Senior Member
    AmE
    Yes, sorry I was too general - I meant not used with the perfect continuous within the context of duration (unless you're contradicting a (sometimes unexpressed) positive).
    I see what you're getting at, but this is still too strong, in my opinion. What do think of the following:
    • This is an economy that hasn't been growing well for probably about the last 20 years. [based on a corpus example]
    • They haven't been getting along for the last few months.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I see what you're getting at, but this is still too strong, in my opinion. What do think of the following:
    • This is an economy that hasn't been growing well for probably about the last 20 years. [based on a corpus example]
    • They haven't been getting along for the last few months.
    Yes, I'm fine with those. Interesting examples. The first implies a year on year repeated comparison whereas if it said
    This is an economy that hasn't grown well over probably about the last 20 years. Then it would be a single comparison of then and now (and it would sound wrong to me with "for" which I'd have to change to "over").
    I find the second harder to analyse. Perhaps it's because this is viewed as a series of interactions none of which have gone well rather than a continuous bad interaction.

    I agree it's a bit tenuous. I think we can say that you don't use the perfect continuous in the negative if a punctual verb hasn't occurred once (as opposed to a clearly repeated number of times) in a certain duration. This is difficult to judge sometimes because, of course, if something hasn't happened how can you decide if it hasn't happened once or hasn't happened many times:D. The interesting cases always seem to have an extra nuance - perhaps that is where it is debatable if we are really talking about a single action or a series of actions. After all "they are getting along well" doesn't mean the same as "they constantly get along well" (ie it isn't purely a continuous version of the second in the way that "it is raining" is a continuous version of "it rains").

    This question reminds me of the French grammar "rule" that you don't use a plural noun after a negative supposedly because if you haven't got one you certainly can't have several, eg "il n'y a pas de chien". However, when the thing in question is usually expected to come in number then you can, eg "il n'y a pas d'oeufs sur le rayon". The grey area there over how many of something we don't have is reminiscent to me of this question of how often something hasn't been happening.
     
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