BASIC ENGLISH GRAMMAR: PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The past perfect continuous corresponds to the present perfect continuous, but with reference to a time earlier than ‘before now’. As with the present perfect continuous, we are more interested in the process.

EXAMPLES

  • Had you been waiting long before the taxi arrived?
  • We had been trying to open the door for five minutes when Jane found her key.
  • It had been raining hard for several hours and the streets were very wet.

 

This form is also used in reported speech. It is the equivalent of the past continuous and the present perfect continuous indirect speech:

 

  • Jane said, “I have been gardening all afternoon.” = Jane said she had been gardening all afternoon.

 

FORMING THE PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

The past perfect continuous is composed of two elements – the past perfect of the verb to be (=had been) + the present participle (base+ing).

 

Subject                                              had been                                          verb + ing

I                                                           had been                                          walking

Affirmative

She                                                     had been                                          trying

Negative

She                                                     hadn’t been                                     sleeping

Interrogative

Had you                                            been                                                   eating?

Interrogative negative

Hadn’t they                                      been                                                   living?

 

 

TO BUY, PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS

Affirmative                                     Negative                              Interrogative

I had been buying              I hadn’t been buying                     Had I been buying?

You had been buying        You hadn’t been buying               Had you been buying?

She had been buying        She hadn’t been buying               Had she been buying?

We had been buying         We hadn’t been buying                Had we been buying?

 

 

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