Past Perfect Continuous Tense

We use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense to talk about:

  1. A past event that was in progress when another past event occurred.
  2. A past event that caused another past event.

1. We can use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense to show that one event was in progress when another event occurred. Both of the events are in the past. The first (1st) event starts in the past and continues until the second (2nd) event in the past.

2nd event now / 1st event

He had been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived.

He arrived first. She arrived 20 minutes later. He waited for 20 minutes.

1st event= he was waiting. 2nd event= she arrived.

She had been studying French for 6 months before she went to Paris.

She started studying French. 6 months later she went to Paris.

We usually specify the period of time between the first event and the second event.

2. We can use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense to show that one event in the past caused another event in the past.

result now / 1st event

He was tired because he had been working too much.

He started working too much. This made him tired.

1st event= he was working too much. Result= he was tired.

We use the Past Perfect Continuous Tense to talk about the first event in the past, and we use the Past Simple Tense to talk about the second event in the past.

Making the Past Perfect Continuous Tense

+ He had been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived. s='he' + had + been + ving='waiting'

- He hadn't been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived. s='he' + had +not + been + ving='waiting'

? Had he been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived? had + s='he' + been + ving='waiting'

Pronunciation

He had been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived.

He hadn't been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived.

Had he been waiting for 20 minutes when she arrived?