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Past Perfect Continuous Tense

I had been singing

How do we make the Past Perfect Continuous Tense?

The structure of the past perfect continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary verb HAVE + auxiliary verb BE + main verb
conjugated in simple past tense past participle present participle
had been base + ing

For negative sentences in the past perfect continuous tense, we insert not after the first auxiliary verb. For question sentences, we exchange the subject and first auxiliary verb. Look at these example sentences with the past perfect continuous tense:

  subject auxiliary verb auxiliary verb main verb  
+ I had   been working.  
+ You had   been playing tennis.
- It had not been working well.
- We had not been expecting her.
? Had you   been drinking?  
? Had they   been waiting long?

When speaking with the past perfect continuous tense, we often contract the subject and first auxiliary verb:

I had been I'd been
you had been you'd been
he had
she had been
it had been
he'd been
she'd been
it'd been
we had been we'd been
they had been they'd been

How do we use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense?

The past perfect continuous tense is like the past perfect tense, but it expresses longer actions in the past before another action in the past. For example:

  • Ram started waiting at 9am. I arrived at 11am. When I arrived, Ram had been waiting for two hours.
Ram had been waiting for two hours when I arrived.
past present future
Ram starts waiting in past at 9am.    
9   11


I arrive in past at 11am.    

Here are some more examples:

  • John was very tired. He had been running.
  • I could smell cigarettes. Somebody had been smoking.
  • Suddenly, my car broke down. I was not surprised. It had not been running well for a long time.
  • Had the pilot been drinking before the crash?

You can sometimes think of the past perfect continuous tense like the present perfect continuous tense, but instead of the time being now the time is past.

past perfect continuous tense   present perfect continuous tense
had |
been |
doing |
>>>> |
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|
|
|
|
|
|
|
have |
been |
doing |
>>>> |

 
past now future   past now future

For example, imagine that you meet Ram at 11am. Ram says to you:

  • "I am angry. I have been waiting for two hours."

Later, you tell your friends:

  • "Ram was angry. He had been waiting for two hours."

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