Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous (Past Perfect Progressive) – past perfect continuous tense in English. It is usually used to describe a continuous action that started and happened in the past before another action that is described in the past indefinite tense. The Present Perfect Continuous is formed with the help of the auxiliary verb had been and a verb ending in -ing.

Past Perfect Continuous
Signal wordsUseForm

for a day (week, month)

since 1995

all day (week)

till or until

how long something had been happening before something else happened

Something that started in the past and continued up to another action or time in the past

Something that finished  just before another event in the past 

had + been + infinitive + ing

The general scheme of using the Past Perfect Continuous on the example of the verb – to work

I/You/We/They/He/She/It had been workingI/You/We/They/He/She/It hadn’t been workingHad I/You/We/They/He/She/It been working?

For convenience, you can use the abbreviated form:

had not been –  hadn’t been


  • Yesterday we had been playing for two hours when Dan arrived
  • The children had been playing and so the room was a mess
  • I had been translating for 3 hours when he arrived
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