Past Perfect Continuous Tense | Rules and Examples

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.

Positive Sentence:

S + had + been + V-ing (present participle) +…

Example:

They had been playing tennis.

Negative Sentence:

S + had not/ hadn’t + been +V-ing (present participle) +…

Example:

They hadn’t been playing tennis.

Question Form:

Had + S + been + V-ing (present participle)?

Example:

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

Example:

The boys had been playing soccer for about an hour when it started to rain.

  • To express the duration before something in the past

Example:

Richard needed a holiday because he had been working hard for six months.

  • To describe the cause of something in the past

Example:

He was tired because he had been jogging.

Adverbs of Time

  • When
  • Before
  • By the time
  • For
  • Since…

Past Perfect Continuous Tense | Image

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

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