Past Perfect Continuous

Past perfect continuous

Английские глаголы в прошедшем совершенном продолженном времени (Past Perfect Continuous) подчеркивают продолжительность, длительность описывамого в предложении действия, которое началось и закончилось до определенного момента в прошлом.  Такая конструкция имеет вид «I had been doing», т.е. смысловой глагол в ней стоит в «инговой» форме.

A. Study this example situation:

Yesterday morning I got up and looked out of the window. The sun was shining but the ground was very wet.

It had been raining.

It was not raining when I looked out of the window; the sun was shining. But it had been raining before. That’s why the ground was wet.

Had been -ing is the past perfect continuous:



(=I’d etc.)

(=he’d etc.)



playing etc.

had been


Some more examples

  • When the boys came into the house, their clothes were dirty, their hair was untidy and one of them had a black eye. They’d been fighting.
  • I was very tired when I arrived home. I’d been working hard all day.


B. You can say that something had been happening for a period of time before something else happened:

  • Our game of tennis was interrupted. We’d been playing for about half an hour when it started to rain very heavily.
  • Ken gave up smoking two years ago. He’d been smoking for 30 years.

C. Had been -ing (past perfect continuous) is the past of have been -ing (present perfect continuous).


present perfect continuous
past perfect continuous
I hope the bus comes soon I‘ve been waiting for 20 minutes, (before now) At last the bus came. I’d been waiting for 20 minutes, (before the bus came)
He’s out of breath. He has been running. He was out of breath. He had been running.


D. Compare had been doing and was doing (past continuous):

  • It wasn’t raining when we went out. The sun was shining. But it had been raining, so the ground was wet.
  • Ann was sitting in an armchair watching television.  She was tired because she’d been working very hard.


E. Some verbs (for example, know and want) are not normally used in the continuous:

  • We were good friends. We had known each other for years, (not ‘had been knowing’)



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

  1. I was very tired when I arrived home. (I / work / hard all day) _I had been working hard all day.
  2. The two boys came into the house. They had a football and they were both very tired. (they/play /football)___________________________________________________________________
  3. There was nobody in the room but there was a smell of cigarettes. (somebody / smoke / in the room) ________________________________________________________
  4. Ann woke up in the middle of the night. She was frightened and didn’t know where she was.(she / dream) _________________________________________________________________________
  5. When I got home, Mike was sitting in front of the TV. He had just turned it off.(he/watch/TV) _____________________________________________________________________


2 Read the situations and complete the sentences.

  1. We played tennis yesterday. Half an hour after we began playing, it started to rain. We had been playing for half an hour when it started to rain.
  2. I had arranged to meet Tom in a restaurant. I arrived and waited for him. After 20 minutes I suddenly realised that I was in the wrong restaurant. I______________________________________ for 20 minutes when I___________________________
  3. Sarah got a job in a factory. Five years later the factory closed down.At the time the factory __________________________________ Sarah _____________________________ there for five years.
  4. I went to a concert last week. The orchestra began playing. After about ten minutes a man in the audience suddenly began shouting. The orchestra _________________________________________________________ when ____________


This time make your own sentence:

I began walking along the road. I___________________________________________________when ________________________________________________________________________________

3 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).

  1. It was very noisy next door. Our neighbours  _were having_ (have) a party.
  2. We were good friends. We _had known_ (know) each other for a long time.
  3. John and I went for a walk. I had difficulty keeping up with him because he _____________________ (walk) so fast.
  4. Mary was sitting on the ground. She was out of breath. She _________________________ (run).
  5. When I arrived, everybody was sitting round the table with their mouths full. They ________________ (eat).
  6. When I arrived, everybody was sitting round the table and talking. Their mouths were empty but their stomachs were full. They _________________________ (eat).
  7. Jim was on his hands and knees on the floor. He ________________________ (look) for hiscontact lens.
  8. When I arrived, Kate _________________________ (wait) for me. She was rather annoyed withme because I was late and she _________________________ (wait) for a very long time.
  9. I was sad when I sold my car. I________________________ (have) it for a very long time.
  10. We were extremely tired at the end of the journey. We _________________________ (travel)for more than 24 hours.
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