Learn how and when to use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense in English with grammar rules and examples.
Forming the Past Perfect Continuous Tense
The Past Perfect Continuous is also known as the Past Perfect Progressive Tense.
The Past Perfect Continuous tense combines perfect progressive aspect with past tense. It is formed by combining had (the past tense of auxiliary have), been (the past participle of be), and the present participle of the main verb.
S + had + been + V-ing (present participle) +…
They had been playing tennis.
S + had not/ hadn’t + been +V-ing (present participle) +…
They hadn’t been playing tennis.
Had + S + been + V-ing (present participle)?
Had they been playing tennis?
How to Use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense
The Past Perfect Progressive is used:
- To describe a past action, already started and continued up to another action or time in the past
The boys had been playing soccer for about an hour when it started to rain.
- To express the duration before something in the past
Richard needed a holiday because he had been working hard for six months.
- To describe the cause of something in the past
He was tired because he had been jogging.
Adverbs of Time
- By the time