Present perfect continuous for an action that is no longer taking place

Vronsky

Senior Member
Russian - Russia
Hello,
The following is from a YouTube video:

“In 2019 in the United States we had the situation of Donald Trump and Russia. For two years, the media, the press has been telling American people 'It looks like there's a problem, it looks like Donald Trump and Russia were working together, oh my god, Donald Trump is basically a Russian spy!' For two years, the media has been very powerfully telling Americans that Donald Trump is working with Russia, with Vladimir Putin. But now we discovered it's not true, there was nothing, zero. So people are shocked.”​

So we have here a pattern: the present perfect continuous ("has been telling") + for ("for two years") for the action that is no longer going on. I wonder if this use of the PPC is justifiable in the given context, considering that the action is not happening at the moment, as I can see. Or should it be used the past simple ("the media told") instead?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The only tense that doesn’t work in that extract (presenting verbatim dialogue, which nearly always contains blips) is “Trump and Russia were working together”. There was probably a momentary confusion with the subjunctive in the speaker’s mind, but “are” would be the natural word to use.

    For two years, the media, the press has been telling American people…

    This use of the present perfect continuous relates to an action that has been going on up to the moment of speaking. That’s all it says. Anything else is the reader or listener’s own inference or knowledge based on the context.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The only tense that doesn’t work in that extract (presenting verbatim dialogue, which nearly always contains blips) is “Trump and Russia were working together”. There was probably a momentary confusion with the subjunctive in the speaker’s mind, but “are” would be the natural word to use.
    I think the 'two years' seems to refer to the period during which the special prosecutor investigated the alleged collusion between Trump and Russia, the collusion allegedly having taken place before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. So, I think 'were' is correct.
     

    JungKim

    Senior Member
    Korean
    So we have here a pattern: the present perfect continuous ("has been telling") + for ("for two years") for the action that is no longer going on. I wonder if this use of the PPC is justifiable in the given context, considering that the action is not happening at the moment, as I can see. Or should it be used the past simple ("the media told") instead?
    The real question is why the present perfect continuous was used instead of the present perfect (not the past simple).
    In general, the continuous form is not limited to describing an ongoing situation at the time of speaking.
    In this particular context, the continuous form is not only justifiable but even preferable to the non-continuous counterpart:

    For two years, the media, the press has been telling American people...:thumbsup:
    For two years, the media has been very powerfully telling Americans...:thumbsup:
    For two years, the media, the press has told American people...
    For two years, the media has very powerfully told Americans...


    That's because the continuous form can convey the speaker's subjective attitude toward the described situation whereas its non-continuous counterpart cannot. By using the continuous form in this YouTube video, the speaker is conveying their negative judgment about the described situation.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think the 'two years' seems to refer to the period during which the special prosecutor investigated the alleged collusion between Trump and Russia, the collusion allegedly having taken place before the 2016 U.S. presidential election. So, I think 'were' is correct.
    That’s a fair point. Were makes sense if the reference is specifically to something in the past. But the speaker goes on to repeat what appears to be the same statement, by saying that Trump is working with Russia. That’s why it reads oddly.
     

    Vronsky

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    That's because the continuous form can convey the speaker's subjective attitude toward the described situation whereas its non-continuous counterpart cannot. By using the continuous form in this YouTube video, the speaker is conveying their negative judgment about the described situation.
    Thank you, JungKim. It's new to me. Live and learn. :)
     
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