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Past Perfect continuous

I had been doing
The past perfect continuous is comprised of two elements - the past perfect of the verb to be (had been) + the present participle (base+ing).


  • We had been trying to get the car started for ten minutes when the mechanic arrived.
  • It had been training for several hours and I was very tired.
  • Her friends had been thinking that she had died when she opened her eyes.

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

  • We'd been knocking on the door for about ten minutes when he opened the door.
  • David sold his car last Friday, he had been trying to sell it for three months.
  • When parents came home, they had a lot of bags full of presents, they'd been Christmas shopping.
  • I was very cold when I got home. I'd been freezing all day.
  • She hadn't been driving very long, but she was a safe driver.
  • Suddenly, my cooker stopped working, I was not surprised, it had not been working well for a long time.

You can sometimes think of the past perfect continuous tense like the present perfect continuous tense, but instead of the time being now the time is past.

  • I hope I get my test results soon, I've been waiting for ten days.
  • David is sweating, he has been running.
  • At last my parcel arrived, I'd been waiting for two days.


  • You had not been working hard enough for the past year.
  • He had not been helping me for over a week.
  • It had not been working for two weeks.
  • We had not been riding in the park for a long time.
  • They had not been eating enough food for a while.


  • Had you been waiting long before the ambulance arrived?
  • Had the driver been drinking before the accident?
  • How long had he been trying to sell the bicycle?

For something that started in the past and continued up to a given time in the past

  • When the project ended I had been working on it for nearly six months.
  • Everything was wet, it had been raining for hours.
For something we had done several times up to a point in the past and continued to do after that point:
  • He was a wonderful pianist, he had been playing ever since he was a child.
  • I had been watching the series every week, but I missed the last episode.
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