Get Adobe Flash player
Login Register
You are here: Level B2 > Past Perfect continuous



Past perfect continuous


We use it when we want to say that something had been going on until a certain moment in the past.

Both actions happened in the past and no connection with the present.


He had been living in the UK for 6 years when he enrolled on a teacher training course. ( He had lived there for some time and THEN he went on a course.)

The music had been playing loudly for 2 hours when the neighbours started to complain. (First the music was playing for some time and THEN the complaining has started.)


had been + verb + ing


The debate had been going on for some time when the last delegates arrived.

When I got home I saw that she had been crying.

They hadn't been playing computer games any more when I came home.

He was sweaty and out of breath when I met him. Had he been running?

She had been working hard 'till the day she had a cardiac arrest.

We had been doing homework before we went out to play.

There are some verbs which are not normally used in 'continuous' tenses.

Using them in 'past perfect continuous' could change their meaning! BUT it is possible to use some of them in informal English.


This is a list of some commonly used verbs:

  • verbs of senses: feel, hear, see, smell, sound, taste

  • verbs of feelings: love, hate, like, want, fear, respect, admire, adore, dislike, wish, prefer, impress, concern

  • verbs of mental activity: agree, believe, expect, know, mean, remember, trust, understand, recognise, realise, suppose, imagine, doubt

  • verbs of possession: belong, own, owe, possess

  • other verbs: astonish, appear, deny, seem, surprise, consist, include, fit, involve