Learn English 100% free...Get 1 free lesson per week // Add a new lesson
Log in!

Click here to log in
New account
Millions of accounts created on our sites.
JOIN our free club and learn English now!

  • Home
  • Print
  • Guestbook
  • Report a bug

  • Get a free English lesson every week!
    Click here!

    - Our other sites

    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #3958: The past perfect continuous
    > Other English exercises on the same topic: Plu-perfect [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Past perfect - Pluperfect - Choosing your past tense... - Life accident 1 - Life accident 2 - Past Perfect Simple or V-ing - Expressing regrets - Dream and Back to reality 2/2
    > Double-click on words you don't understand

    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 Asia.

    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 Paris. ACTIVE

    - The restaurant's fantastic dinners
    had been being prepared
    by Chef Jones for two years before he moved to Paris. PASSIVE

    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.

    Twitter Share
    English exercise "The past perfect continuous" created by anonyme with The test builder.
    Click here to see the current stats of this English test

    Please log in to save your progress.

    1. I left without him last night, but I told him to meet me early because the film started at 8:00. I (try) to get tickets for that movie for months, and I didn't want to miss it.

    2. By the time I finally left the coffee house where we were supposed to meet, I (drink) three cups of coffee .....

    3. ..... and I (wait) over an hour.

    4. I had to leave because I (arrange) to meet John in front of the cinema.

    5. When I arrived at the cinema, John (take, already) the tickets and he was waiting for me.

    6. He was very upset because he (wait) for more than half an hour.

    7. He said he (give, almost) up and .....

    8. .... (go) into the cinema without me.

    9. John told me I (be) late so many times and that he would not go out with me anymore.

    10. He added that he (miss) the best part of the movie because of my late arrival.

    End of the free exercise to learn English: The past perfect continuous
    A free English exercise to learn English.
    Other English exercises on the same topic : Plu-perfect | All our lessons and exercises