Past Perfect Continuous

The last of the storytelling tenses in English, the past perfect continuous is used to talk about something that was happening before another event happened in the past.


Read on for some tips on how to form the past perfect continuous tense, or

Past Perfect Continuous Affirmative


The past perfect continuous affirmative is formed by using "had been" and the present participle (-ing form of the verb).

  • Examples:
    • By the time our train finally arrived, we had been waiting for over two hours.
    • Sherrie was exhausted; she had been cleaning all day.

Past Perfect Continuous Negative

The past perfect negative is formed by adding "not" after "had." This is usually contracted to "hadn't."

  • Examples:
    • We hadn't been planning to come, but we changed our minds at the last minutes.
    • Lucas hadn't been studying all semester, so he had to study very hard the last few weeks to make up for it.

Past Perfect Continuous Questions

Yes/no questions in the past perfect continuous are formed by moving the "had" to the beginning of the sentence.

  • Examples:
    • Had you been planning to come to London, or was that a last-minute decision?
    • Had we really been driving for seven hours?

Wh-questions in the past perfect continuous tense are formed by placing the wh-word at the beginning of the sentence. The rules for yes/no questions still apply.

  • Examples:
    • Where had Alice been planning to have her wedding?
    • What had Noah been doing before he changed careers and became a doctor?

Click here to see the B2 Verb Tenses Bundle in the store.
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