Past Perfect Continuous

Hello everyone,

Let’s move ahead and continue the next lesson on Tenses. I’m, Past Perfect Continuous Tense. Hope you have attempted the quizzes on Present Perfect Continuous Tense and understood the lesson thoroughly. If you are new and or wish to revise you can start from the beginning and learn all the chapters of Tenses stepwise. Now let’s quickly see how I, Past Perfect Continuous Tense help you in framing your statements.

I also make people confused like the Present Perfect Continuous Tense as I talk about the actions that started in the past and were in progress by the time of speaking in the recent past or had just been finished. 


Due to the continuous process of the work in the past people often misunderstand me with the Past Continuous Tense. But you can recognize me very easily by the timing given in the statement.

See these examples:- 

She had been crying for two hours when her father reached home.

Smita had not been studying since two o’clock. 

Had you not been crying lately?


But sometimes, in informal conversation, you can keep the timing in hidden form i.e. you needn’t speak the timing but you’ll have to catch the sense that the action has begun in the recent past but has not been finished till now and is in progress.

 See these:-

Akshat didn’t know the whole matter. He had been playing in the garden.

Arjun had been watching the television. So I don’t think he had cooked for himself. 

 Thus you can define me in the following way:- 


“The Past Perfect Continuous is used to express an action that began before a definite moment in the past and was in progress at the moment of speaking in the recent past .”

Key Feature of Past Perfect Continuous Tense / How to recognize Past Perfect Continuous Tense:-


Auxiliary Verb – 

Singular / Plural – had been + V4(V1+ing)

Timing since/for Since for +point of time.


Work had been started in the past but had not been finished till the time of speaking in the recent past or the action had just finished. 

Adverbs of Recognition

 ( recently, lately, since ever, never, a while ago )


 When to use Past Perfect Continuous Tense 

  I can be helpful to you in the following conditions


  1. How long to a point in the past ( Pointing Time)

I had been sleeping for 4 hours.

Ankita had been crying since last night.

I had been studying in this school since 2013.

  1. Results at a time in past

I found my courtyard dirty. The birds had been eating

 pieces of bread here I guess.

My bike was wet outside. It had been raining since 

last night, I think.

Since- Point of Time ( Two o’clock, Last Night, Last Sunday)

For- Period of Time ( Two days, Four months, five years)


Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Affirmative

Subject+ had been + V4 (V1 + ing) Object+ Since/for+ Time.

Rishu had been working hard since last year.

These girls had been wasting their time for a few years. 

Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Negative

Subject + had not been+ V4 + ( V1+ ing) + Object+ Since/for+ Time

You had not been studying since yesterday.

I had not been waiting for you for two hours.

These boys had not been playing since noon.

Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Type 1

Had+ Subject+ been+ + V4 + ( V1+ ing) + Object+ Since/for+ Time

Example- Had you even been cooking since 9 A.M?

Had she been crying for two hours?

Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Type 2

‘ Wh ‘ family word+ had+ Subject+ been + V4 + ( V1+ ing) + 

Object+ Since/for+ Time

Why had you been beating him since morning?

Where had Ankur been playing for 3 hours?


Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Type 3


How much/ How many/ Which/ Whose+ related noun+ had+ Subject+ been + V4 + ( V1+ ing) + Object+ Since/for+ Time

How much money had you been spending on your bike for four days?

How many plants had you been stealing from my garden?

Whose book had you been reading since last night?

Which book had you been searching for last 2 days?

Structure of Past Perfect Continuous Interrogative Negative

—–Had+ Subject+ not + been—

Beginning and ending parts in all types of Interrogative negatives will be the same 

Had you not been reading this book since last night?

Why had you not been taking care of yourself for two weeks?

How much money had you not been spending on your education 

since the last five years?

Note – the adverb ‘Last’ also shows definite time

Published by Buds of Wisdom

I am Meena Kumari, PGT(English)+ B.ed. Teaching is my passion. Love to guide students in Grammar Learning and build up their writing skills.

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