the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

How do we make the Past Perfect Continuous Tense?

The structure of the Past Perfect Continuous tense is:

subject + auxiliary have + auxiliary be + main verb
conjugated in Past Simple past participle  
had been present participle

The first auxiliary verb (have) is conjugated in the Past Simple, invariable: had

The second auxiliary verb (be) is invariable in past participle form: been

The main verb is invariable in present participle form: -ing

For negative sentences we insert not after the first auxiliary verb.

For question sentences, we exchange the subject and the 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?

Contraction with Past Perfect Continuous

When we use the Past Perfect Continuous in speaking, we often contract the subject and the first auxiliary verb. We also sometimes do this in informal writing.

I had been I'd been
you had been you'd been
he had been
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

In negative sentences, we may contract the first auxiliary verb and "not":