My students, as well as other English learners, often use the word 1″recently”, but unfortunately, they often use it incorrectly!
Sadly, this is often not their fault. Many teachers often teach it incorrectly!
Shocking, isn’t it?
First of all, there are three verb tenses you can use “recently” with:
- Present perfect continuous (I have been doing something)
- Present perfect simple (I have done something)
- Past simple (I did something)
Cool! Now we can start using it, right?
Ah… nope. It’s not that simple. We also need to know how to use recently with each one.
1. I did something more than one time in the recent past, and I am still doing it now
If I did something every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for one month, and I still do it now (and I plan to continue doing it in the future), I would use the present perfect continuous form.
So, for example, if I studied English about 20 times this month and I plan to continue doing this, I could say:
“I have been studying English (a lot) recently.”
2. I did something one or more times or was in a state in the past, but I’m not now and I don’t plan to in the near future.
If I did something once last week, and maybe once yesterday, but have no plans to do it again, I would use the past simple.
So, for example, if I studied English a few days ago (and maybe yesterday, too), but I have no plans to do it again any time soon, I could say:
“I studied English recently.”
Also, if I felt something in the past, but don’t feel it now, I would use the past simple.
“I was sick recently.”
This means I was in this state for at least one day in the past, but I’m not any more.
3. I was in a state in the near past, and I am still in that state.
If we were in a state in the past and we are still in that state (it’s continuing), we would use the present perfect simple tense.
So, for example, if I was sick two days ago, yesterday and I’m still sick now, I could say:
“I have been sick recently.”
I made this (really bad) infographic. I hope it’s helpful!