Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense is formed by combining ‘had been’ with a present participle.

‘had been’ + Present Participle = Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Examples:

had been + dancing = had been dancing

had been + singing = had been singing


We use the past perfect continuous tense to show that an action started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. The action usually stopped when something else happened.

Examples:

I had been painting my house for two hours when Flora arrived.

We had been singing for only five minutes when the blackout occurred.

When Ariel left Japan, she had been living in Tokyo for seven years.

Paul had been waiting for Candy for an hour by the time she arrived.

My mum had been staying in the hospital for five weeks when she was discharged.

Benny had been learning to play the violin for a year when he sat the exam.



Exercises

A. Fill in the blanks with the past perfect continuous tense of the verbs in brackets.

1. By the time Sarah was stung by a bee, she ____________ (weed) in the garden for twenty minutes.

2. We ____________ (dance) for half an hour when the doorbell rang.

3. When the earthquake occurred, we ____________ (live) in Taiwan for three years.

4. I ____________ (sleep) for five hours by the time a loud noise woke me up.

5. They ____________ (rehearse) the play for a month before performing it on the stage.

6. When it started raining, Adrian and Felix ____________ (playing) badminton for half an hour.

7. Victoria ____________ (wait) for 15 minutes before a waiter served her.

8. The engine ____________ (run) for an hour by the time someone turned it off.


B. Rewrite the following sentences, using the past perfect continuous tense of the verbs in brackets.

1. Mr. Jefferson (teach) in this school for 12 years when he was transferred to another school.

2. By the time the girl was rescued, she (suffer) for a week.

3. The secretary (type) for forty minutes when her boss called her name.

4. When it started to rain, the children (play) Frisbee for about an hour.

5. Paula (work) as an attorney for 25 years by the time she retired.

6. Mr. Smith (drive) for 45 minutes before his car ran out of gas.

7. When the eggs hatched, the hen (keep) them warm for 21 days.

8. Henry (fly) his kite for about an hour when the string broke.


Answers

A.

1. had been weeding

2. had been dancing

3. had been living

4. had been sleeping

5. had been rehearsing

6. had been playing

7. had been waiting

8. had been running


B.

1. Mr. Jefferson had been teaching in this school for 12 years when he was transferred to another school.

2. By the time the girl was rescued, she had been suffering for a week.

3. The secretary had been typing for forty minutes when her boss called her name.

4. Before it started to rain, the children had been playing Frisbee for about an hour.

5. Paula had been working as an attorney for 25 years by the time she retired.

6. Mr. Smith had been driving for 45 minutes before his car ran out of gas.

7. When the eggs hatched, the hen had been keeping them warm for 21 days.

8. Henry had been flying his kite for about an hour when the string broke.