having a sore back in these past few days [perfect progressive]

G.Determinism

Senior Member
Persian
Hello guys

When it comes to present perfect people normally call for since and for as two classic prepositions, but sometimes, in specific situations, I feel none one of them suits the context. Specially when you are talking about an ongoing situation. Please have a look at the sentence below and let me know your ideas.

1. I have been having a sore back in these past few days.
2. I have been having a sore back these past few days.
3. I have been having a sore back over the past few days.
4. I have been having a sore back for the past few days.

Technically the last one should be the right one. But for me it has an implication that the pain though was hurting over the past few days but it has already started to subside and is not a concern anymore. Am I mistaken?
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I'm afraid none of them work for me using the perfect continuous with "have" as the verb. I'd either change it to "I've had a sore back" or, if if you want to keep the same tense, "I've been suffering from a sore back..."

    As far as the prepositions go, I wouldn't use (1) with "in". For me, any of the others would work and I don't think there's any significant difference in meaning or inference.
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You mean the present perfect continuous/progressive. ;)

    You cannot say 'I've been having a sore back...'. I will say no more about that, however, as I am sure it has been dealt with elsewhere on the forum and because your question is more to do with the prepositions we use. So:

    1. I have had a sore back in these past few days.:cross:
    2. I have had a sore back these past few days.:tick:
    3. I have had a sore back over the past few days.:tick:
    4. I have had a sore back for the past few days.:tick:

    Cross-posted, but we're saying exactly the same thing.:)
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    For possession or diseases we don't use the continuous tense of 'have' because they are considered states, and not actions. Of course there may be some more situations/things for which we don't use 'have' in a continuous tense.
     

    veggie21

    Senior Member
    English England
    For possession or diseases we don't use the continuous tense of 'have' because they are considered states, and not actions. Of course there may be some more situations/things for which we don't use 'have' in a continuous tense.
    Hi
    You would say 'I've been having pains these past few days' or 'I've been having toothache/headaches/sick spells/sickness over the past few days' but not 'I've been having a sore back/throat/leg/foot/neck over the past few days'. Why? Because the pains and the toothache/headaches/sick spells/sickness are fleeting or intermittent states (they come and go) whereas the sore back/throat/leg/foot/neck is a more permanent, fixed state. Perhaps?
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi G.D., I'm not at all sure that I would say "have a sore back" at all.
    My back has been aching ... (the pain is from the bones and/or muscles)
    My back has been hurting ... (the pain is from the bones and/or muscles, or the skin, for example a rash or a cut),

    Otherwise I agree that 2, 3, 4 are best, but I don't find "my back has been aching/hurting in these past few days" or "I have been suffering from backache in these past few days" or "I have been having backache in these past few days" unacceptable at all.
     
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    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thank you everyone for sharing your opinion here, I really appreciate that. I think my problem consists of two different parts. First off, the tense itself is in question and then the choice of word remains obscure. let's debate the former first.
    Which tense should be used to show continuity of an action or state, in the way that it suggests something has started since some point in the past and still continues. I'm thinking of a tense which is actually the combination of "Present Perfect" and "Present Continuous".
    As bennymix explained here, using Present Perfect might connote the idea of completion, while Present Perfect Continuous implies something is still going on. So can we come to this conclusion that the right tense to be used in this sort of situation should always be Present Perfect Continuous?

    Many Thanks.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Hi G.D. yes, that's the right conclusion. If the action is still going on at the time the statement is made, present perfect continuous is the right tense. Here are some more examples:
    It's [= it has] been raining for eight hours (now). (It's still raining)
    It was raining (or "it rained") for eight hours. (It has stopped raining)
    The cat has been missing for three days (now). (The cat's still missing)
    The cat was missing for three days. (The cat is back)
    I've been trying to understand the use of the present perfect continuous for 20 years. (I still don't understand it.)
    I tried to understand ......... (Now I've understood, or maybe I've stopped trying to understand and have just given up :D.)

    Have a good day!
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, the perfect continuous is definitely the correct tense to use in this context. The root of the problem in the original sentence is the verb "have" coupled with the phrase "sore back" and that's why it doesn't work.

    I have been having/getting back pains [over the past few days].
    I have been suffering from a bad back [over the past few days].
    I have been getting toothache [over the past few days].
    would all be fine, in my opinion. :)
     

    G.Determinism

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Thanks Enquiring Mind and DonnyB.

    Hi G.D. yes, that's the right conclusion. If the action is still going on at the time the statement is made, present perfect continuous is the right tense. Here are some more examples:
    It's [= it has] been raining for eight hours (now). (It's still raining)
    It was raining (or "it rained") for eight hours. (It has stopped raining)
    The cat has been missing for three days (now). (The cat's still missing)
    The cat was missing for three days. (The cat is back)
    I've been trying to understand the use of the present perfect continuous for 20 years. (I still don't understand it.)
    I tried to understand ......... (Now I've understood, or maybe I've stopped trying to understand and have just given up :D.)

    Have a good day!
    Your last example is telling my story :) I can say I have never been confident of my English, every sentence I make I feel like is either grammatically wrong or not idiomatic and this really hurts my speaking because I tend to over-think things and this lets me down.
    As to my never ending doubts with tense, I again feel using "for" which is followed by a definite time "8 hours" without including "now" may sort of suggest completion of action, I'm not sure whether it's a language thing, but that's the way I interpret.
    1. It's been raining for eight hours. (But it has just stopped)
    2. It's constantly been raining over the past few hours. (better??!)

    Thanks.
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    Yes, you are right with It's been raining for eight hours. (But it has just stopped). You can use the present perfect continuous if the action has just stopped too.
    At last, it's [= it has] stopped raining. Now I can go out to the shop. I didn't go earlier because it's been raining for eight hours and I didn't want to get wet.

    But don't overthink it. Sentence 2 is not better because "constantly" is redundant (not needed). The use of the continuous (also called "progressive") form along with "over" already carries the notion of "constantly".
     

    Enquiring Mind

    Senior Member
    English - the Queen's
    For is the option for an ongoing or continuous action. Over or in can, but don't necessarily, imply constantly.
    It's been raining for the last 12 hours - It didn't stop raining at any point, it has rained continuously.
    It's been raining over/in the last 12 hours - maybe the rain was constant, or maybe it rained for a bit, then the rain stopped, then it started again. Maybe it only rained once, maybe more than once. All we can deduce is that in or over the past 12 hours, there has been some rain.
     
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