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


Introduction


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):

Present

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

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


Past

-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.

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