English Grammar: Past Perfect Continuous Tense

During our Business English: speaking courses, many people question the importance of grammar in spoken English, while some fervently support it. I guess this question can be reserved for other times. Today we are going to take a look at past perfect continuous tense and its applications in spoken English.

Past perfect continuous is used to show the continuity of the activity in past, to talk about the things that had happened in the past over a period of time.

Verb

Here main verb is in –ing form and auxiliary verb is “had been”.

Make a statement

A statement in past perfect continuous tense is constructed in following ways.

Subject

Auxiliary Verb

Main Verb

Object

I, You, We, They

had

been

drinking

coffee

He, She, It

had

been

drinking

coffee

I, You , We, They

had

not been

drinking

coffee

He, She, It

had

not been

drinking

coffee

Structure for constructing a statement in general can be:

Subject + had + been + Main Verb -ing + Object (positive statement)

Subject + had+ no, not, never + been + Main Verb -ing + Object (negative statement)

Ask a question

While forming interrogative sentence, auxiliary verb precedes subject in general. Following can be use of past perfect continuous tense in interrogative sentences.

Auxiliary Verb

Subject

Main VerbObject

Had

I, You, We, They

beendrinkingcoffee?

Had

He, She, It

beendrinkingcoffee?

Had

I, You, We, They

not beendrinkingcoffee?

Had

He, She, It

not beendrinkingcoffee?

Now there are few situations where the past perfect continuous tense is used.

Duration in the past

The main use of the Past Perfect Continuous is to express actions or situations that were in progress before some other actions or situations.

  • The workers had been working the whole day in double shifts.
  • The children had been playing in the garden when the snake was found.
  • The people of the United States had been revolting before independence.
  • Rupa had been baking the cake, before two days.

Showing Cause

This tense is used to show cause of an action or situation in the past.

He had been successful in his life because of his hard work and dedication.

  • They had been motivated for the work by the lectures.
  • She had been doing the work for running the family.
  • It had been digging the soil for hiding the bone.

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