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1. Past perfect continuous

The past perfect continuous is a verb tense mainly used to express actions that began at one specific time in the past and continued to another specific point in the past. 
It had been raining for 15 minutes, so they decided to call of the match.
His face was dirty because he had been eating chocolate.

2. How is the past perfect continuous built?

  • Affirmative form
    Subject AuxiliarY Been Verb(ing) Examples
    I had
    'd
    been travelling I had been travelling all night.
    You You had been travelling all night.
    He He had been travelling all night.
    She She had been travelling all night.
    It It had been travelling all night.
    We We had been travelling all night.
    You You had been travelling all night.
    They They had been travelling all night.
  • Negative form
    Subject AuxiliarY Been Verb(ing) Examples
    I hadn't
    had not
    been travelling I hadn't been travelling all night.
    You You hadn't been travelling all night.
    He He hadn't been travelling all night.
    She She hadn't been travelling all night.
    It It hadn't been travelling all night.
    We We hadn't been travelling all night.
    You You hadn't been travelling all night.
    They They hadn't been travelling all night.
  • Interrogative form
    AuxiliarY Subject Been Verb(ing) Examples
    Had I been travelling? Had I been travelling all night?
    you Had you been travelling all night?
    he Had he been travelling all night?
    she Had she been travelling all night?
    it Had it been travelling all night?
    we Had we been travelling all night?
    you Had you been travelling all night?
    they Had they been travelling all night?

    Interrogative sentences in past perfect continuous also have their own short answers.

    Adverb Subject AuxiliarY
    Yes, I had
    you
    he
    she
    it
    we
    you
    they
    Adverb Subject AuxiliarY
    No, I hadn't
    you
    he
    she
    it
    we
    you
    they
    - Had you been working in the Smiths' garden that day?
    - Yes, I had.

3. How do we use the past perfect continuous?

The past perfect continuous is used for:

  • An action that began at a specific time in the past and continued until another specific point in the past or until another action took place.
    How long had he been rehearsing when he took a break?
    In this example the action of rehearsing took place at some point in the past and continued until another particular point in the past (when a break was taken).
    She'd been working in the sales department for two years before she was promoted.
    In this example, the action of working in the sales department continued until another action took place (she was promoted).
  • An action that causes another action to take place in the past.
    She was tired because she had been skiing.
    I was sleepy because I'd been reading late.

We must remember that the Past Perfect Continuous is not used if the main verb is a state verb.

Remember!

The past perfect continuous is mainly used to express actions that began at one particular time in the past and continued to another particular point in the past.
  Structure Examples
AFFIRMATIVE Subject + had + been + verb (-ing) + (complement) He had been watching TV all afternoon.
NEGATIVE Subject + had + not + been + verb (-ing) + (complement) I hadn't been crying.
INTERROGATIVE Had + subject + been + verb (-ing) + (complement)? How long had you been sleeping?

 

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