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Lesson 2.2

Past Perfect Continuous

El pluscuamperfecto continuo
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The past perfect continuous is used for actions or events that were in process in the past before another action or event occurred.

Grammatical Rules

Form

As with the present perfect continuous, we form the past perfect continuous with the auxiliary verb “to have”, “been” and the verb+ing.

Subject Auxiliary Verb+ing
I, you, he, she, it, we, they had been studying, working, traveling…

Structure

1. Affirmative Sentences

Subject + “had” + “been” + verb+ing…

Examples:

 I had [I’d] been studying English for 2 years when I went to London.
 Lindsay had been working at the store since 2005 when it closed.
 They were surprised when the airline lost their baggage as they had [they’d] been traveling for weeks without a problem.

2. Negative Sentences

Subject + “had” + “not” + “been” + verb+ing…

Examples:

 I had not [hadn’t] been studying English long when I went to London.
 Lindsay had not [hadn’t] been working at the store for long when it closed.
 They had not [hadn’t] been traveling long before they had their first problem.

3. Interrogative Sentences

“Had” + subject + “been” + verb+ing…?

Examples:

 Had you been studying English for a long time before you went to London?
 Had Lindsay been working at the store for a long time when it closed?
 Had they been traveling for a long time when the airline lost their luggage?

Uses

1. We use the past perfect continuous for actions or events that were in process in the past, before another action or event occurred. The past perfect continuous is used for the action in process and the past simple for the action that interrupted the action. As we use this tense to refer to something we were doing over a period of time in the past, we generally use the prepositions of time “for” or “since”.

Examples:

 I’d been working for hours when I fell asleep at my desk.
 Frank bought a new car. He’d been looking for one since last year.
 We’d been arguing for days when Elizabeth found a solution.

2. The past perfect continuous is used to show cause and effect in the past.

Examples:

 She was tired because she’d been working too much.
 They were angry because they’d been waiting for me for hours.

Note: As we have seen, there are some verbs which may not be used in the continuous tenses. Further explanation, as well as a list of such verbs that cannot be used in the continuous tenses, can be found in the lesson on the continuous verb tenses.

Note: As we have seen, there are some verbs which may not be used in the continuous tenses. Further explanation, as well as a list of such verbs that cannot be used in the continuous tenses, can be found in the lesson on the continuous verb tenses.

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2.1 Past Perfect

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