Past Perfect Continuous


Positive Subject + had + been + verb-ing
Negative Subject + had not (hadn’t) + been + verb-ing
Question Had + subject + been + verb-ing…?


She had been trying very hard.

We hadn’t been sleeping.

Had you been eating?


-We use past perfect continuous when we want to talk about:

actions or situations that were in progress before some other actions or situations (duration of the past action) The boys had been quarreling for half an hour when we arrived home.

I had been dating him for 3 years before we got married. 

cause of an action or situation in the past He was in a detention because he had been misbehaving.

The road was wet because it had been raining.


  1. Read the situations and make sentences from the words in brackets.

a. I was very tired when I arrived home.

  (I/work/hard all day)

  I had been working hard all day.

b. The two boys came into the house. They had a football and they were both very tired.


c. There was nobody in the room but there was a smell of cigarettes.

(somebody/smoke/in the room)

d. Ann woke up in the middle of the night. She was frightened and didn’t know where she was.


e. When I got home, Mike was sitting in front of the TV. He had just turned it off.



b. They had been playing football./They’d been playing …

c. Somebody had been smoking in the room.

d. She had been dreaming./She’d been dreaming.

e. He had been watching TV./He’d been watching.

  1. Put the verb into the most suitable form, past continuous (I was doing), past perfect (I had done) or past perfect continuous (I had been doing).

a. It was very noisy next door. Our neighbors were having (have) a party.

b. We were good friends. We had known (know) each other for a long time.

c. John and I went for a walk. I had difficulty keeping up with him because he … (walk) so fast.

d. Mary was sitting on the ground. She was out of breath. She … (run)

e. When I arrived, everybody was sitting round the table with their mouths full. They … (eat).

f. When I arrived, everybody was sitting round the table and talking. Their mouths were empty but their stomachs were full. They … (eat).

g. Jim was on his hands and knees on the floor. He … (look) for his contact lens.

h. When I arrived, Kate … (wait) for me. She was rather annoyed with me because I was late and she … (wait) for a very long time.

i. I was sad when I sold my car. I … (have) it for a very long time.

j. We were extremely tired at the end of the journey. We … (travel) for more than 24 hours.


  c. was walking

d. had/’d been running

e. were eating

f. had been eating (had eaten is also possible)

g. was looking

h. was waiting … had been waiting/’d been waiting

i. had had/’d had

j. had/’d been travelling


The information we used is collected from different sources on the Internet and in English coursebooks.


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