Past perfect continuous


The past perfect continuous tense, also known as the past perfect progressive, describes an action or event that started in the past and continued until another action started. It is formed by adding a “verb-ing” to had been. To get more details about this tense, take a look at the following table.

Basic notes about past perfect continuous

FORMRule: past perfect continuous = subject  + had + been + verb-ing
Affirmative/Positive: I/We/They/He/She/It had been doing/working
Negative: I/We/They/He/She/It hand not (hadn’t) been doing/working
Interrogative: Had I/We/They/He/She/It been doing/working?
USE/FUNCTION1) Action happened before the time of speaking in the past and continued up to it or stopped just before it
1) Repeated action in the past
EXAMPLES1) We had been watching the fish in the aquarium before the giant turtle appeared.
2) The forest had been burning for a week before the fire was put out.
– since
– how long


Put the verbs between brackets in the correct tense

  1. Before I bought my new boat, I (go) ______ ______ ______ to the boat show every day to see the newest models.
  2. You (talk) ______ ______ ________ to Whitney before the show began.
  3. We (think) ______ ______ ______ about buying an electric car even before the price of gas went up.
  4. He (drive) ______ ______ ______ too fast all afternoon before the accident happened
  5. After she died, it was discovered that she (make) ______ ______ ______ secret donations to the shelter for years.
  6. They (race) ______ ______ ______ cars at that track for twenty years before it closed
  7. We (grow) ______ ______ grapes for twelve years before we decided to open a winery.
  8. Tony’s knee (ache) ______ ______ ______ until the coach bandaged it.
  9. Sean and Melinda (not, keep) _____ ______ _______ ______ good financial records before they got an accountant to help them.
  10. The owner of the cookie shop (plan) ______ ______ ______ to add two more ovens before the building burned.
  11. My family and I (live) ______ ______ ______ in the Florida Keys before we decided to move to the northern part of the state.
  12. The peaches (not, hang) ______ ______ on the trees for long before the birds ate them.
  13. The lake (supply) ______  ______ water for the town since 1902. Now it was too polluted.
  14. Crystal (paint) _____ ______ ______ the walls before she ran out of paint.  
  15. The colony’s independent farmers (feel) ______ ______ ______ resentful about English rule and taxation long before the revolution.
  16. Mrs. Esposito (not, cook) ______ ______ ______ ______ very much until Vincent arrived and asked for his favorite dishes.
  17. Until Nigel joined a fraternity, he (call) ______ ______ ______ his father every Saturday.  
  18. The villagers (normally, carry) ______  ______ water for miles before the new well was dug.
  19. The gymnastics team (still, practise) ______ _____ ______ hard at nine o’clock p.m.
  20. When Mrs. Stein awoke at six o’clock a.m., her husband (already, milk) ______ ____ ______ the cows for an hour.

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