The Past Perfect Continuous

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Welcome to your Past Perfect Continuous lesson! In this topic we talk about:

• When do we use the Past Perfect Continuous?

Other uses of the Past Perfect Continuous.

The Present Perfect Continuous or the Past Perfect Continuous?

Using the Past Continuous with the Past Perfect Continuous.

Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.


When do we use the Past Perfect Continuous?

Have a look at this example:

Yesterday I went hiking. It was really sunny, but the ground was wet.

It had been raining.

It wasn’t raining while I was hiking, but it had been raining before. “Had been raining” is the Past Perfect Continuous.

Here are some more examples:

My daughter came back from school with paint all over her dress. She had been painting.

She came home and collapsed on the sofa. She had been working very hard.

I stayed with a friend by the beach, I didn’t know the town but he had been living there for a while.


Other uses of the Past Perfect Continuous

The Past Perfect Continuous is also used to say that something had been happening for a period of time before something else happened. Have a look at these examples:

We‘d been swimming for about half an hour when it started to rain.

I took my car to the garage last week, it had been making strange noises.


The Present Perfect Continuous or the Past Perfect Continuous?

Present Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous

James is breathing heavily, he has been running.
James is breathing heavily in the present.

They have been working hard, they‘re so tired!
They are tired in the present.

James was breathing heavily, he had been running.
James is breathing heavily in the past.

They had been working hard, they were so tired.
They are tired in the past.


Using the Past Continuous with the Past Perfect Continuous

Have a look at how we can use these two tenses together:

It wasn’t raining when we went hiking. The sun was shining. But it had been raining, so the ground was muddy.

He was sleeping on the sofa because he had been working so hard.

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