BASIC ENGLISH: PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS (English Mania:Spoken english classes in bhubaneswar)

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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.

Her friends had been thinking of calling the police when she walked in.


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.

When the police questioned him, John said, “I was working late in the office that night.” = When the police questioned him, John told them he had been working late in the office that night.


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?

Interrogative negative

Hadn’t they     been                living?


  • Here’s how to make the past perfect continuous. It’s ‘had’ + been (the past participle of ‘be’)+ verb-ing

Firstly, let’s look at the positive form:

  • I had been living
  • You had been going
  • She had been sleeping
  • He had been working
  • It had been raining

Note:  The short form is: ‘d been verb-ing. Be careful, because the short form for ‘would’ is also. However, ‘would’ is always followed by the infinitive, but ‘had’ is followed by the past participle.



 The negative form:

  • I had not been trying (I hadn’t been.)
  • You had not been working (you hadn’t been.)
  • She had not been crying (she hadn’t been.)
  • He had not been shopping (he hadn’t been.)
  • It had not been snowing (it hadn’t been.)
  • We had not been reading (we hadn’t been.)
  • They had not been running (they hadn’t been.)


‘Yes/no’ questions:

  • Had I been working?
  • Had you been sleeping?
  • Had she been reading?
  • Had he been watching TV?
  • Had it been raining?
  • Had we been drinking?
  • Had they been eating?


‘Wh’ questions:

  • Where had I been working?
  • How long had you been sleeping?
  • What had she been reading?
  • How long had he been watching TV?
  • How long had it been raining?
  • What had we been drinking?
  • Why had they been eating?


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