They <have been/ were> looking for it for ages [Present Perfect vs Past continuous]

natalia1818

New Member
Polish
"It says in the paper that they (discover)........................ oil in Wales. They (look for)................................it for ages."
Which tenses should I use in the blanks? I would say: It says in the paper that they have discovered oil in Wales. They have been looking for it for ages.

I'm not certain about the last one, though. Maybe it's better to say: "They were looking for it for ages?"?

Please, help!
 
  • KHS

    Senior Member
    I would have used past perfect continuous: They had been looking for it for ages (prior to its discovery).

    EDIT: My explanation: A continuing action in the past, you know how long (for ages), interrupted by a second action in the past.
     

    natalia1818

    New Member
    Polish
    Are you sure? It's in the unit with present perfect tense... Is it fine then if I leave present perfect in the first sentence and then put past perfect continuous in the second one? Or should I change they have discovered for just discovered?
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    Okay - since the discovery is very very recent, I can understand using present perfect continuous. However, I would say "have discovered."

    For me, past continuous contrasts with past perfect continuous, but the former does not mention how long, while the latter does.

    He was reading when she got home. (don't know how long)
    He had been reading for an hour when she got home. (know how long)
     

    wolfbm1

    Senior Member
    Polish
    They have looked for the oil for ages and finally they discovered it. So I guess it is also possible to say:
    "It says in the paper that they discovered oil in Wales. They have looked for it for ages."

    Edit: It is interesting that sentence "10.It says in the paper that they (discover) _________ oil in the Wales. They (look for) _________ it for ages." is not any more in Michael Vince's book which I have.
     
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    Ivan_I

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What about the past Continuous?

    "It is said in the paper that they (has) discovered oil in Wales. They were looking for it for ages."
     
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