"have to" progressive form

Yaribo

Member
Romanian
Hello!

One exercise from Longman Advanced Grammar goes like this: suggest alternatives for the phrases in italics; use the progressive forms of "have to".

For this particular phrase: Business has been so bad, we've been obliged to close our shop early, the answer key says we've been having to close.

I don't get why Present Perfect Continuous was used instead of Present Perfect Simple, can't we say we've had to close? Does this have to do with the "progressive form" required by the exercise?

I'd be grateful if anyone could make it clear for me.
 
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    That's also perfectly possibly. The simpler forms (we've been obliged to, we've had to close) can be understood as either a single event (closing today) or a repetition (every day since business went bad). The progressive 'we've been having to' only has the repetitive meaning, so it substitutes for one possible meaning of 'we've been obliged to'.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    We have had to close suggests a single action, possibly even terminating the business.
    We have been having to close suggests repeated actions, a decision about shutting the doors, made on several occasions.

    [Cross-posted.]
     

    Yaribo

    Member
    Romanian
    Thank you both!

    I guess I perceived it only as a single action and that's why it felt strange to use the continuous form.
     
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