English Daily Workout: Past Continuous, Past Perfect, and Past Perfect Continuous

Past Continuous, Past Perfect, and Past Perfect Continuous

The past continuous, the past perfect and the past perfect continuous

    1. Summary of the uses of the English tenses
    2. The past continuous
         a. Use
         b. Formation
         c. Questions and negative statements
    3. The past perfect
         a. Use
         b. Formation
         c. Questions and negative statements
    4. The past perfect continuous
         a. Use
         b. Formation
         c. Questions and negative statements
    5. Summary of the formation of the English present and past tenses
    6. Emphatic statements

1. Summary of the uses of the English tenses

There are four types of verb tense in English: the Simple, the Continuous, the Perfect, and the Perfect Continuous. Each type of tense has a Present, a Past, and a Future form, as well as other modal forms.

Thus, just as there are four present tenses in English, there are also four past tenses: the Simple Past, the Past Continuous, the Past Perfect, and the Past Perfect Continuous.

As will be shown below, the three forms of each type of tense are closely related in terms of their use and formation. For instance, the Present Continuous, Past Continuous, and Future Continuous tenses are all used to express continuous, ongoing actions; and are all formed from the verb to be followed by the present participle. The differences are that the Present Continuous is formed with the Simple Present of the verb to be, and is used mainly to express present actions; the Past Continuous is formed with the Simple Past of the verb to be, and is used to express past actions; and the Future Continuous is formed with the Simple Future of the verb to be, and is used to express future actions.

The uses of the Simple, Continuous, Perfect, and Perfect Continuous tenses are summarized in the following table.

The Uses of the English Tenses

Type of TenseType of Action Expressed
Simple- actions occurring at regular intervals
 - general truths, or situations existing for a period of time
 - non-continuous actions
  
Continuous- continuous, ongoing actions
  
Perfect- non-continuous actions completed before a certain time
  
Perfect Continuous- continuous, ongoing actions completed before a certain time