PAST PERFECT CONTINUOUS TENSE

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense is similar to the past perfect tense and it also expresses the ‘past in the past’. Here, we will look at the structure along with the use of the past perfect continuous tense which will be followed by a short exercise to check your understanding of the concept. Remember that the continuous tenses are also called the progressive tense. Similarly, the past perfect continuous tense is sometimes also called the past perfect progressive tense.

Let us take a look at the structure of the past perfect continuous tense.

subject+Auxiliary have+Auxiliary be+Main verb
Conjugated in past simplePast participle
hadbeenPresent participle
  • First auxiliary is conjugated in the past simple tense,invariable: had
  • Second auxiliary verb is invariable in the past participle form: been
  • Main verb is invariable in the present participle form: -ing
  • In case of negative sentences, we put ‘not’ after the first auxiliary verb
  • In case of question sentences, the subject and the first auxiliary verb are exchanged.

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

subjectAuxiliary verbAuxiliary verbMain verb
+Ihadbeenstanding.
+Youhadbeenreading.
Ithadnotbeenannoying.
WehadnotbeenSeeing her.
?Hadyoubeeneating?
?HadtheybeenExpectingher?

Very often, we contract the subject along with the first auxiliary verb when using the past perfect continuous tense while speaking. At times, we also do this in informal writing.

You had beenYou’d been
I had beenI’d been
She had beenShe’d been
We had beenWe’d been
They had beenThey’d been

Let us take a look at some examples:

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

In case of negative sentences, we are free to contract the first auxiliary verb along with ‘not’.

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

The Past Perfect Continuous is more similar to the Past Perfect Tense. However, it expresses longer actions in the past 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.

REVISION EXERCISE

Choose the correct option and write it down on paper or a book for your future reference.

  1. My friend ______ drinking for a long time. (has, had, had been)
  2. The xerox machine _______ working well. (hadn’t, had not, had not been)
  3. I _____ expecting the best. (‘d been, had being, had)
  4. Had the driver ______ before the accident?  (been drinking, drunk, drink)
  5. I finally reached my friend. ______ her all day. (I’d been messaging, I have messaged, I messaged)

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