Lesson Seventeen

The Past Perfect Continuous Tense

We studied the present perfect continuous tense in this lesson

….and now here’s the past perfect continuous tense:

S + had + been + ______ing

I had been working
We had been working
You had been working
You had been working
He had been working
She had been working
They had been working
It had been working

Use the past perfect continuous tense to talk about an action that was continuous in the past and happened before another past action.

Watch this video:


In the pictures below, notice the words with the "ing" endings. Those are the main verbs in continuous forms.

I had been working on my house all day before I sat down to play my guitar.

I have been studying the guitar for many years.


After you had been working all day, you went home to study English on the internet.

You have been studying English for only a few years.


He had been having a good day until a thief came into his apartment, took all his money, and tied him up.

man tied up

You can tell she had been sitting in a hot tub for awhile because she was all wet.

girl in water

This little penguin had been living in Antarctica before he was captured and brought to this zoo.


We had been communicating with each other online before we stopped to take a break.We have been using the internet as a means for communication for many years.


mei yang

I + you = we

You had been playing soccer but then your friend came by and you stopped.
They had been working for many years, but then they retired.

older couple

Are you ready for a quiz?

Note: If the past perfect continuous tense is too hard, just use the past continuous tense. Very few Americans know the difference.

Next: Lesson 18

prepositional phrases