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The past perfect continuous
USE 1 - Duration before something in the Past
We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past.
For five minutes and for two weeks are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous.
Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now.
- They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived.
- She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business.
- James had been teaching at the University for more than a year before he left for
USE 2 - Cause of something in the Past
Using the Past Perfect Continuous before another action in the past is a good way to show cause and effect.
- Jason was tired because he had been jogging.
- Sam gained weight because he had been overeating.
How to form the past perfect continuous
I had been walking
You had been walking
He/she/it had been walking
We had been walking
You had been walking
They had been walking
There is no past perfect progressive for the verb to be.
Had been being is expressed simply as had been
Ex: We had been
being successful before, but we somehow lost our knack.
Like every continuous, some verbs don’t take the continuous form:
- Verbs of perception: see – hear – smell – taste – feel
- Verbs relating to mental and emotional activity: agree – believe – imagine – love – promise – realise – recognise – think
- Verbs of possession and measurement: fit – suit – weigh – belong – possess – own – contain – consist
Active and passive forms
- Chef Jones had been preparing the restaurant's fantastic dinners for two years, before he moved to
- The restaurant's fantastic dinners had been being prepared by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to
NOTE: Passive forms of the Past Perfect Continuous are not common.
Now, choose between the past perfect and the past perfect continuous in the following sentences.
Don't use contractions.