top of page

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

What is the past perfect continuous tense? How do we use past perfect continuous tense tense? How to use present perfect continuous tense?

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense


1) We use the past perfect continuous when we talk about an action (quite a long one) which began in the past and continued up until another time in the past. Unlike the present perfect continuous, which indicates an action that began in the past and continued up to the present, the past perfect continuous indicates something that began in the past, continued in the past, and also ended at a defined point in the past.

Sammy had been playing with his food when his mom walked into the kitchen.

2) The past perfect continuous is formed using had + been + present participle. Questions are indicated by inverting the subject and had. Negatives are made with not. Contracted forms are used.

(+) Tom was very tired when he got home. He had been working all day./He’d been working all day.
(-) Tom wasn’t very tired when he got home. He hadn’t been working all day.
(?) Why was Tom tired when he got home? Had he been working all day?

Compare the present perfect continuous (I have been doing) and the past perfect continuous (I had been doing):


-I hope the bus comes soon. We’ve been waiting for 30 minutes. (before now)

-Lilly is out of breath. She has been running.


-At last the bus came. We’d been waiting for 30 minutes. (before the bus came)

-Lilly was out of breath. She had been running.

Some time markers can emphasize the duration of the action. These time markers are аll dау, аll morпing, for dауs, for аgеs etc. You can also use time markers to say that something had been happening for a period of time before something else happened:

Samantha went to the doctor last Monday. She hadn't been feeling well for some time.
My sister had been playing with her friends outside for an hour when it started to rain heavily.

Remember that non-continuous verbs (e.g. to love, hate, know, want etc.) are not used in any continuous tenses. Use the past perfect instead.

We were good friends. We had been knowing each other for years. We had known each other for years.

Don't Stop There!

This is only a small part of the lesson. There is so much more to learn. Continue this lesson by joining The Ultimate English Grammar Course. 


Inside the course, you can continue with this lesson. There are dozen more uses and examples not shown here. You will also get access to guided practice with a real English professor, a real-life dialogue conversation,  and dozens of grammar practice problems with answers and PDF/ebook. Just click below to open the full course!

See What Our Students Say...


Still Not Sure?

  • Learn the most important topics in English grammar

  • Learn how to use English grammar in real conversation examples.

  • Prepare for English grammar exams like  A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC

  • Improve your speaking, listening, and writing with English grammar.

  • Beginner | Intermediate | Advanced | All Levels

  • Master English writing with the new bonus English punctuation section

Everything You Need to Know

This course has every English grammar topic. If you want to learn perfect English, this course is for you! No other English course covers as many English Grammar topics. This course includes a full English grammar book with hundreds of practice problems.

Enjoy the new English punctuation course that is included with this already huge English grammar course.

4 courses in 1 | Beginner Grammar | Intermediate Grammar | Advanced Grammar | English Punctuation

Don't waste your time buying dozens of English grammar courses. Everything you need is all in this English Grammar Master Course. This is the only course that teaches you English grammar in use and also shows you how to use it in real English conversation.

Every lesson has dozens of useful English Grammar examples, video lectures, guided practice, real-life English conversation, and worksheet pdfs full of practice problems to help you learn English.

The teacher for this course is a real-life university professor and will answer any questions you have.

Every lesson comes with the following:

  • Dozens of examples with full explanations.

  • Side by side guided instruction with Professional English teacher

  • A real-life conversation dialogue to show the grammar topic in use

  • Plenty of activities and exercises to practice what you learned.

  • A PDF worksheet to download and work offline

This course has 3 sections. Beginner grammar, intermediate grammar, and advanced grammar.

The course now also includes a full English punctuation course in addition to the English grammar course. Learn to master English writing and bring your English to the next level.

With the help of our course, you will master English grammar to improve your English speaking, or to ace those tough English grammar test such as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1,  TOEFL, IETLS, AND TOEIC.

Start learning English the easy way!

Langpill | Learn English | Speaking | Listening | Writing

bottom of page