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Past Perfect Continuous

Past Perfect Continuous Taalhulp Engels
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The past perfect continuous is an English tense to talk about events or actions in the past. On this page, you have a detailed overview of when to use this tense, how to form it and you also have some examples and exercises.

Past perfect continuous tense

You use this tense to talk about actions or events that happened before another action in the past when the focus is on the duration of the action. It’s important that you use this tense for an action that happened before another action in the past. This means that there is a clear link between the two actions in the past. For more information about the past perfect, click here.

In short:

You use this tense for an action or event that happened before another action or event in the past when you want to stress the duration

  • Before I called you, I had been trying to call my father all day. .

How to form the past perfect continuous

The past perfect continuous is similar to the past perfect, but there is one major difference: the -ing form of the main verb. You use the -ing form to stress the duration of an event or action.

Past perfect continuous positive

You form this tense by using ‘had’, followed by ‘been’ and the -ing form of the main verb. If you want to form a past perfect continuous, you always need these three parts:

had + been + -ing form of the main verb

I had been working
You had been working
He/she/it had been working
We had been working
You had been working
They had been working

Past perfect continuous negative

To make the negative form, you put ‘not’ right after the auxiliary ‘had’.

I had not been working
You had not been working
He/she/it had not been working
We had not been working
You had not been working
They had not been working

Past perfect continuous questions

Forming questions in the past perfect continuous is a little more complicated, but still fairly easy. You just need to change the word order. First, you put the auxiliary verb, followed by the subject, been and the -ing form of the main verb. You always need to write it like this:

had + subject + been + -ing form of the main verb

Had I been working?
Had you been working?
Had he/she/it been working?
Had we been working?
Had you been working?
Had they been working?

Time indicators

If you see this word, it can be an indication that you are dealing with a past perfect or past perfect continuous.

  • Before

Examples

PositiveNegativeQuestions
I had been working
He had been singing
I hadn’t been working
He hadn’t been singing
Had I been working?
Had he been singing?

Exercises

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