What Is the Past Perfect Continuous

The past perfect continuous is used to indicate that an action started in the past and continued until another period in the past. The past perfect continuous is form using had + past participle of the verb to be + (verb + ing).

When to Use:

1- Events that happened in the past and Continue.

The mean reason to use this tense is when talking about something happened in the past and still up until sometime in the past. Similarly, to the present perfect continuous, the past perfect continuous tell us “for how long” the action is happened.

  • They had been married for twenty years when she moved into the city.
  • I had been looking for hours when I finally found my keys.
  • We had been living in London for five months when we had to leave.

2- Result of past actions

We use the past perfect continuous to show results of an action that took place in the past.

  • The floor was wet, it had been raining.
  • The room was a mess, the children had been playing and jumping all around.
  • I had been driving for hours before I met you and that’s why I was exhausted.

How to Use

As mentioned before the past perfect continuous is formed using:


Positive forms in the past perfect continuous:

  • I had been living
  • You had been going
  • She had been sleeping
  • He had been working
  • It had been raining
  • We had been studying
  • They had been cooking

Negative forms in the past perfect continuous:

  • I had not been trying.
  • You had not been working.
  • She had not been crying.
  • He had not been shopping.
  • It had not been snowing.
  • We had not been reading.
  • They had not been running.

Questions in the past tense:

  • Had I been working?
  • Had you been sleeping?
  • Had she been reading?
  • Had he been watching TV?
  • Had it been raining?
  • Had we been drinking?
  • Had they been eating?

’Wh’ questions:

  • Where had I been working?
  • How long had you been sleeping?
  • What had she been reading?
  • How long had he been watching TV?
  • How long had it been raining?
  • What had we been drinking?
  • Why had they been eating?
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