In his 'English Grammar in Use' Raymond Murphy says:

(1) Ann's clothes are covered in paint. She has been painting the ceiling.

"Has been painting is the present perfect continuous. We are interested in the activity. It does not matter whether something has been finished or not. In this example, the activity (painting the ceiling) has not been finished."

(2) The ceiling was white. Now it is blue. She has painted the ceiling.

"Has painted is the present perfect simple. Here, the important thing is that something has been finished. 'Has painted' is a completed action. We are interested in the result of the activity (the painted ceiling), not in the activity itself."

Well, Ann's clothes being covered in paint is also a result of her painting. How can one distinguish between them? Would it be wrong if it were 'Ann's clothes are covered in paint. He has painted the ceiling'?


You are out breath. Have you run? (Instead of 'have you been running')
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Comments  (Page 2) 
Thank you, Jim. This really qualifies for an answer.