Unit 2.1

Past Perfect Continuous

Tenses

Download Download eBook Download ebook Print This Post Print This Post

Introduction

Past perfect continuous is a tense used to talk about actions or situations that were in progress before some other actions or situations started.

Form

We usually find the past perfect continuous in its three forms:

Affirmative

Its structure, in the affirmative form, is:
Subject + Had + Been + Present Participle + …

SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB BEEN PRESENT PARTICIPLE
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had been walking

Negative

Its structure, in the negative form, is:
Subject + Had not + Been + Present Participle + …

  • Negative short form is: hadn’t been.
SUBJECT AUXILIARY VERB + NOT BEEN PRESENT PARTICIPLE
I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They had not
been  walking

Interrogative

Its structure, in the interrogative form, is:
Had/Hadn’t + subject + Been + Present Participle + …?

AUXILIARY VERB (/+ NOT) SUBJECT BEEN PRESENT PARTICIPLE QUESTION MARK
Had/Hadn’t I/You/He/She/It/We/You/They been walking ?

Example

  1. Duration of a past action
    • Had you been learning to ski for several years before you broke you leg?
    • My family had been searching for a suitable place to stay before they came here.
  2. Cause of an action/situation
    • The woman was tired because she had been giving birth the previous day.
  3. Third conditional
    • If you hadn’t been wearing normal clothes, you would have been part of the halloween themed party.
  4. Reported speech
    • “Have they been studying all these days?” ⇒ He asked if they had been studying all those days.

Use

We use past perfect continuous:

  • When we talk about the duration of a past action, up to a certain point in the past;
  • When we show the cause of an action or situation;
  • With third conditional;
  • With reported speech.

Summary

Past perfect continuous is used to talk about actions or situations that were in progress before some other actions. It is used to show the cause of an action or situation, to make third conditionals, to use indirect (reported) speech.

We can use it in its different forms:

  • Affirmative: We start with the subject followed by had been and the present participle.
  • Negative: We start with the subject followed by had not been and the present participle.
  • Interrogative: We start with had followed by the subject followed by been and the present participle (the sentence ends with a question mark).

For example:
— “I had been removing the trash when my dad called.” = Removing the trash is an action that started at a moment in the past and continued for a while until my dad called. Both actions took place in the past. Using past perfect continuous indicates that removing the trash is a progress.
♦ “I had removed the trash before I went to school.” = Past perfect tense shows that removing the trash is the first action that took place. It doesn’t show any progress. It only shows us the order of the actions.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

Books4Languages feedback

License

English Grammar B2 Level Copyright © 2018 by books4languages. All Rights Reserved.