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Grammar >>> Past Perfect Continuous (Progressive) Tense





   1. How to form the Past Perfect Continuous Tense?

   The Past Perfect Continuous is made by using the past form of the auxiliary verb "have"+past participle of the verb "to be"+the present participle of the main verb (-ing form). To form questions we reverse the order of the pronoun and "had" (Had I, Had he ...?).

Past Perfect Continuous (Progressive) Tense

Affirmative (Positive) Form

Negative Form

Question Form

 I had been  studying  I  had not been  studying  Had  I  been  studying?
 You had been  studying  You  had not been  studying  Had  you  been  studying?
 He had been  studying  He  had  not been  studying  Had  he  been  studying?
 She had been  studying  She  had  not been  studying  Had  she  been  studying?
 It had been  studying  It  had not been  studying  Had  it  been  studying?
 We had been  studying  We  had  not been  studying  Had  we  been  studying?
 You had been  studying  You  had not been  studying  Had  you  been  studying?
 They had been  studying  They  had not been  studying  Had  they  been  studying?

Contracted forms: 'd+been+verb -ing form

Examples: 1. They had been playing tennis for two hours before the accident happened.
  2. Had she been teaching English for the last six months?
  3. I hadn't been waiting long when there was a knock at the door.
  4. He hadn't been sleeping well for the last few nights.



   2. Using the Past Perfect Continuous Tense

   We use the Past Perfect Continuous to express an ongoing action in the past before a particular time or another action in the past. The Past Perfect Continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something.

Examples:  1. Susan had been studying Spanish for 3 years before she started to learn English.
2. He had been running until he was out of breath.
3. They had been watching TV for two hours before Mike came.
4. Diana had been playing tennis for half an hour when it began to rain.
5. I had been writing letters before lunch.
6. At 10 o'clock Kate had been playing the piano for two hour. (She began at 8 o'clock and at 10 o'clock she was still playing.)

   We also use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense for past events or actions which had a result in the past.

Examples:  1. The grass was wet. It had been raining all morning.
   2. Tom was very tired. He had been working in the garden for a long time.

   Remember, that we use the Past Perfect Tense for finished actions in the past and with state verbs (be, know, belong, hear, believe, like, mean, etc.).

Examples:  1. Before lunch Susan had planted the seeds. (She finished his work.)
   2. Peter had been there for nearly 2 hours when they finally arrived.

   The Past Perfect Continuous Tense also appears in third conditional sentences (1) and in reported speech (2), when we want to emphasize a duration of time.

Examples:  1. If he hadn't been reading for hours last night, he would have got up earlier.
   2. She said she had been teaching English for the last three years in Japan.






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