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Past Perfect Continuous Tense - Sentences

The past perfect continuous is not used a lot, but if we want to be fluent English speakers, then we have to know it.

We use this verb tense in two ways.

1. We use the past perfect continuous to emphasize what action or event happened first in the past. It can also be used to talk about something that continued for a period of time in the past.
  • We had been playing golf for a couple hours when it started raining.
  • It had been snowing.
2. We use the past perfect continuous tense to give a cause or reason for something in the past.
  • He was tired because he had been working all day.
Here is how you make a past perfect continuous sentence.

Subject + had + been + verb(-ing)...

We do not always use the past perfect continuous at the beginning of a sentence.
  • I went outside and I saw that it had been raining.
  • We had been playing for a while when we decided to get some food.
  • They had been debating the issue for hours before they made a decision.
We can make a negative sentence by adding "not".

Subject + had not + been + verb(-ing)...
  • He had not been playing long when he got hurt.
  • They had not been sitting there long when it started to rain.
  • We had not been watching the movie for more than 10 minutes when the electricity went out.
Here is how we use contractions with the past perfect continuous.
  • I'd been waiting for an hour.
  • She'd been talking for a long time.
  • They'd been thinking about it for a while.
  • He hadn't been waiting long.
  • They hadn't been talking for more than 10 minutes.
Here is some extra practice so you can master this difficult grammar point.

Example Sentences
  • I had been researching for 10 hours before I found the answer that I was looking for.
  • I was stressed because I had been researching for 10 hours.
  • I hadn't been waiting long when my name was called.

  • You had been sitting there a long time before you realized I was here.
  • You were sleepy because you had only been studying and not sleeping.
  • You had not been paying attention when you got in the car accident.

  • We had been walking and talking for a long time before we realized that we didn't know where we were.
  • We were surprised by the size of the party because we had been expecting a small party.
  • We had not been working long when we heard that the project had been canceled.

  • He had been staring out the window for hours before he realized he was alone.
  • Nick was sad because he had been trying to get a new job, but he kept failing.
  • He hadn't been thinking long before he made his decision.

  • She had been talking to her friend for minutes before she realized her baby was crying.
  • Sarah was excited because she had been looking forward to the concert for months.
  • She had not been driving for more than an hour when her car got a flat tire.

  • It had been snowing a long time before we left, so the roads were really bad.
  • The meat was very delicious because it had been marinating for hours.
  • The company had not been operating more than a month before it went bankrupt.

  • They had been arguing for hours before the cops finally came.
  • They were happy because they hadn't been working for weeks.
  • The children hadn't been playing long when one child got hurt.
English Conversation 1

A) Why was Greg so tired at the meeting last Friday?
B) He was tired because he had been working late every day last week.
A) What was he working on?
B) He had been looking for a solution to his problem. Luckily, he finally found the solution last Friday. So, he should have more energy this week.

English Conversation 2

A) I had been walking for miles before I realized I was lost.
B) How is that possible?
A) I was thinking about my life and I just wasn't paying attention.
B) That is funny.

Improve your English grammar and learn to speak fluently with this simple practice. Finish the sentences below and then practice making your own sentences. It is a great way to get more comfortable with a difficult English grammar point.

Tip: Say the sentences aloud. This will help you practice speaking English and improve your pronunciation and fluency. It will help your tongue get used to speaking English and making English sounds.

I was tired because I had been _______________.
I was _______________ because I had been _______________.
He was _______________ because he had been _______________.
They were _______________ because they had been _______________.
I had been _______________ for a long time before _______________.
She had been _______________ before I came.
They had been _______________ before they started their own company.
He had been _______________ when we arrived.

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