Tenses & Timelines: Perfect Continuous Forms-Past*

Tenses & Timelines: Past Perfect Continuous

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

Past perfect continuous is used to demonstrate an action which continued for a specific period of time but stopped before another action.

past perfect continuous

The past perfect continuous has much the same relation to the past perfect tense as the present perfect continuous has to the present perfect tense.

The past perfect continuous tense is an extension to the past perfect tense and its structures. Past perfect continuous is used to demonstrate an action which continued for a specific period of time but stopped before another action.

Subject + had + been + verb+ing + . . . . . + for/since + . . . . .+ before + subject + past simple tense.

By adding (for / since)

  • for: a length of time
  • since: a point in time

e.g.

  • Jeff had been playing tennis for 18 years before he retired.

     

  • Alan had been living in Sydney since 2010 before he moved to Melbourne.

The past perfect continuous is also used to say how long something went on for, up to a time in the past.

e.g.

  • The airline apologized to the passengers because they had kept them waiting for 3 hours.

Note: This tense can be replaced by the past perfect tense, leaving off for/since.