English Daily Workout: Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous

 
4. The past perfect continuous
         a. Use
         b. Formation
         c. Questions and negative statements 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
4. The past perfect continuous

a. Use
The Past Perfect Continuous tense is used to refer to a continuous, ongoing action in the past which was already completed by the time another action in the past took place. In the following examples, the verbs in the Past Perfect Continuous tense are underlined.
e.g. I had been waiting for two months by the time I received the reply.
      He had been thinking about his friends shortly before they called.

In the preceding examples, the verbs had been waiting and had been thinking are in the Past Perfect Continuous tense, and the verbs received and called are in the Simple Past. The use of the Past Perfect Continuous tense indicates that the actions of waiting and thinking were continuous, and were completed by the time the actions expressed by the verbs in the Simple Past took place.

b. Formation
The Past Perfect Continuous tense is formed from the Past Perfect of the auxiliary to be, followed by the present participle of the verb. For example, the Past Perfect Continuous tense of the verb to work is conjugated as follows:


I had been working
you had been working
he had been working
she had been working
it had been working
we had been working
they had been working

The auxiliary had is often contracted to 'd in spoken English.



c. Questions and negative statements
As is the case with other English tenses, questions and negative statements in the Past Perfect Continuous tense are formed using the first auxiliary.

Questions are formed by placing the first auxiliary before the subject. For example:

Affirmative StatementQuestion
  I had been working .                                           Had I been working?
  They had been working.  Had they been working?

Negative statements are formed by placing the word not after the first auxiliary. For example:

Affirmative StatementNegative Statement
  I had been working.                                           I had not been working.
  They had been working.  They had not been working.

Negative questions are formed by placing the first auxiliary before the subject, and the word not after the subject. However, when contractions are used, the contracted form of not follows immediately after the first auxiliary. For example:

Without Contractions With Contractions
  Had I not been working?                                      Hadn't I been working?
  Had they not been working?  Hadn't they been working?

Tag questions are formed using the first auxiliary. In the following examples, the negative tag questions are underlined. Contractions are usually used in negative tag questions.

Affirmative StatementAffirmative Statement with Tag Question
  I had been working.                                              I had been working, hadn't I?
  They had been working.  They had been working, hadn't they?