Home Grammar Advanced Past perfect continuous

Past perfect continuous

Introduction

We use the past perfect continuous to talk about a continuous action in the past which started and continued until a later past action.

For example:

had been running  for six hours by the time  I arrived at the finish line.
this happened first this happened later
... or:

By the time  I arrived  at the finish line,  I had been running for six hours.
this happened later this happened first

The bus was late. I had been waiting for 30 minutes when it finally arrived.

Form

To make the past perfect continuous tense we use:
had / "hadn't been" + "ing" form of the main verb.

For example:

I
You
He / She / It
We
They
had
(or: I'd / She'd / They'd, etc)
been lying in the sun for hours.
hadn't (had not)

Had I
You
He / She / It
We
They
been lying in the sun for hours?

Practice

Complete the sentences with the correct past perfect continuous form of the verb in brackets.

  • Because it for days, the pitch was soaked. (rain)
     
  • She the flowers so they all died. (not water)
     
  • the computer? (they use)
     
  • Peter for a new job for months when he finally found one in London. (look)
     

Further practice

Choose the correct answer to complete the sentence: a, b, c or d.


Check my answers

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Dictation - 5 business English exercises