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.
- 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
She had been trying
She hadn’t been sleeping
Had you been eating?
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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