Past Perfect Progressive Tense meaning and examples.
Past Perfect Progressive Tense
What does past perfect progressive tense mean?
Usually, past perfect progressive tense means
Perfect actions happen before something. Progressive actions happen over
time. We use past perfect progressive when we want to make it clear that the action was happening
*until (or almost until) something
*in the past.
Another way to say the same thing is that we use past perfect progressive to show that an action started before a time in the past and that the action continued until (or almost until) that time.
Past perfect progressive Tense Examples:
When the earthquake occurred, Barney had been watching the World Series on T.V. (Barney started watching T.V. before the earthquake and was watching until (or almost until) the earthquake hit.)
Mortimer and Ludwig were acting strange last night. Had they been drinking before they came to the party? (I want to know if they were drinking shortly before they arrived.)
Ralph almost had an accident; he hadn’t been paying attention to the road.
(Ralph was not paying attention for a period of time until he almost had an accident.)
Where had Ralph and Trixie been living before they found the apartment
they have now? (I want to know where Ralph and Trixie were living until they found their new apartment.)
At twelve o’clock I had been correcting papers for three hours. (I was correcting papers for three hours before twelve o’clock.)
The main questions my students usually have about past perfect progressive are:
*When should I use past perfect progressive?
*How is past perfect progressive different from past perfect?
*How is past perfect progressive different from past progressive?
How do I make past perfect progressive tense?
had been + verb-ing
When Trixie finally arrived, Norton had been waiting for 20 minutes.
Lucy’s eyes were red. Ricky could tell she had been crying.
Wilma was exhausted. She had been cooking all afternoon.
had not been +verb-ing
Betty looked so thin the last time we met! I think she hadn’t been eating
Billy’s teacher sent a note to his parents saying that he had not been doing
all of his work.
After the camping trip, Barney had a beard because he hadn’t been shaving for a couple weeks.
(question word) + had + subject + been + verb-ing
What had Fred been doing before Wilma got home?
Where had Ricky been working before he got his job at the Copacabana?
You Should Know about Past Perfect
We use past perfect progressive to make it clear that an action happened over time until something in the past. A lot of the time, we can also use past perfect + a length of time to show this. Often, both tenses are okay and they both mean the same thing.
I had studied for three hours before the test.
I had been studying for three hours before the test.
(These sentences mean the same thing.)
Unfortunately, sometimes only one of these tenses is correct. I’m going to
give you a simple rule here; it won’t tell you everything, but if you follow this
rule, you’ll create correct sentences.
If you want to show that an action was happening over time until something in the past,
*use past perfect progressive with most verbs
*use past perfect + a length of time with stative verbs
Ricky had been washing his car when it started to rain. (We can use past
perfect progressive because wash isn’t a stative verb.)
Fred loved Ethyl. He had loved her since the day they met. (Love is a
stative verb, so we can’t use past perfect progressive. Instead, we
need to use past perfect + a length of time.)
Note: This is almost exactly the same rule that we use for
*present perfect vs. present perfect progressive and
*future perfect vs. future perfect progressive.
*past perfect vs. past perfect progressive