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I often use the phrase "have been" (or "has been") in English in sentences like:

  • It has been raining a lot recently.
  • I have been thinking about the exam all week.
  • It's been a long time since I've seen you.
  • I have been very busy with work lately.

In Spanish I was told "have/has been" generally translates as he estado (or ha estado, etc). Are there other ways "have been" can be translated? When would each be used?

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In the examples you provide they can all be translated as ha estado or he estado, except the third one:

  • It has been raining a lot recently = Ha estado lloviendo mucho últimamente (or maybe better "ha llovido mucho últimamente")
  • I have been thinking about the exam all week = He estado pensando en el examen toda la semana
  • I have been very busy with work lately = He estado muy ocupado con el trabajo últimamente

Your third case is a bit special, because "It's been a long time" is kind of different. It translates as "ha pasado mucho tiempo" or "hace mucho (tiempo)". So:

  • It's been a long time since I've seen you = Hace mucho (tiempo) que no te veo

So, yes, in general have been translates as ha estado (or whatever person it is). I would say this applies to:

  • have been + gerund
  • have been + adjective

But there are some constructs, like "it's been a long time" that have a corresponding special construct in Spanish.

I must add that if what has been happening is still going on, or has just finished, you could say, for example:

  • I have been waiting for an hour = Llevo una hora esperando
  • Have you been doing that for a long time? = ¿Llevas mucho tiempo haciendo eso?
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