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Past Perfect Continuous

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Verb Tenses | 0 comments

The Past Perfect Continuous shows us that an action or activity started in the past and continued for a period of time in the past. This verb tense is also called Past Perfect Progressive. Before learning this verb tense, it’s a good idea to go over the Past Perfect Tense first. The difference is very similar to the difference between the present perfect and the present perfect countinuous tenses.

How to use the Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous

This verb tense is formed the following way: had been + verb + ing

1. Use this tense when an action continues for a period of time up to a specific time in the past.


  • When I woke up, the bus had been going for half an hour.
  • When I got home, they had been having dinner for half an hour.

2. Use the Past Perfect Progressive when the continuous past action has visible results in the past


  • He had been driving for 10 hours before he had the accident.
  • They had been flying for 5 hours before the crash.
As I mentioned before, this tense is the past equivalent of the Present Perfect Continuous.

Past Perfect Continuous – Signal words/Time expressions

for, since, by the time, all day

Past Perfect Continuous – Sentence Structures

Affirmative Sentence Structure:

Subject Auxiliary verb + BEEN Main verb + ING Rest of the sentence
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had been driving for 5 hours.

Negative Sentence Structure:

Subject Auxiliary Verb + NOT + BEEN Main verb + ING Rest of the sentence
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had not been driving for 5 hours.

Interrogative Sentence Structure:

Auxiliary Verb Subject + BEEN Main verb + ING Rest of the sentence
Had I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They been driving for 5 hours?


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