What is the structure of past perfect continuous tense?

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what is the structure of past perfect continuous tense

What is the structure of past perfect continuous tense?

Meaning of Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense is similar to the past perfect tense and it also tells about the ‘past in the past’. Here, we will look at the structure, the Past Perfect Continuous Tense examples, Past perfect Continous Tense rules along the use of the past perfect continuous tense which will be followed by a short quiz to check your understanding of the concept.

Over here, a point to remember is that the continuous tenses are also known as the progressive tense. Hence, the past perfect continuous tense is also called the past perfect progressive tense.


What is the Structure of past perfect continuous tense.

subject + Auxiliary have + Auxiliary be + Main verb
    Conjugated in past simple   Past participle    
    had   been   Present participle

Past Perfect Continuous Tense Rules

  • The first auxiliary is formed in the past simple tense,invariable: had
  • The second auxiliary verb is invariable in the past participle: been
  • The main verb is invariable in the present participle: -ing
  • In case of negative sentences, after the auxiliary verb, we put the word ‘not’
  • In the case of question sentences, we exchange the subject and teh first auxiliary verb.

Past perfect continuous tense examples:

  subject Auxiliary verb   Auxiliary verb Main verb  
+ I had   been standing.  
+ You had   been reading.  
It had not been annoying.  
We had not been Seeing  her.
? Had you   been eating?  
? Had they   been Expecting her?

While speaking and using the past perfect continuous tense, very often, we combine the subject along with the first auxiliary verb. At times, the same is also done in informal writing.

‘You had been’ will change to You’d been
‘I had been’ will change to I’d been
‘She had been’ will change to She’d been
‘We had been’ will change to We’d been
‘They had been’ will change to They’d been

Let us take a look at some past perfect continuous tense examples:

  • I’d been eating all night. 
  • It’d been too dry.

In the case of negative sentences, we can opt to combine the first auxiliary verb along with the word ‘not’.

  • He hadn’t been seeing her since long.
  • They hadn’t been really well.

The Past Perfect Continuous and the Past Perfect Tense are similar to each other. However, bigger actions in the past are shown before any other action in the past.

For example,

  • I had been waiting for 2 hours for the shop to open.
  • I could smell the fragrance. Somebody had been spraying good cologne.
  • I was very energetic. I had been exercising for a long time.

Quiz of Past Perfcet Continuous Tense