Past Perfect Continuous Tense in English Grammar

Past Perfect Continuous Tense indicates an action continuing for a period of time or point of time in the past. Past Perfect Continuous Tense also indicates two actions or events in past together. The other facts are similar to Present Perfect Continuous Tense. It is the 9th part of the lesson Tense and its classification.

So, let’s start our discussion on the structures of Past Perfect Continuous Tense, its negative and interrogative forms and variations in English grammar.

Notice these sentences in Past Perfect Continuous Tense:
They had been drawing a picture since morning.
I had been waiting for you for two hours.
He had been writing the story since Monday.
When he came here, I had been working for two hours in my room.

Like, Past Perfect Tense, the structures of sentences can be two types in Past Perfect Continuous Tense also.
So here are the structures:

Structure-01: Had been+ (verb+ ing)+ for/since
Example: He had been writing a report for an hour then.

Structure-02: Subject+ had been+ (verb+ ing)+ for/since+ time+(when/before/after)+ subject+ past form of verb+ object
Example: They had been playing cricket since 4.00 p.m. before we reached there.

So, according to the structure, we get that in case of two events, one event will be formed into the structure of Past Perfect Continuous Tense and the other one will be into Past Indefinite Tense. Besides, as a conjunction, you can use ‘when/before/after’.

Now, study the negative and interrogative structures of Past perfect Continues tense.
It’s not difficult too much. Yes, you have to just ‘not’ after the auxiliary verb ‘had’ in order to make negative. And like before, you must put the auxiliary verbs at the first of the sentence in interrogative form.

Negative Structure: Had been not+(verb+ing)+for/since
Example:
I had not been waiting for you for two hours.
He had not been writing the story since Monday.

Interrogative Structure: Had +subject been +(verb+ing)+for/since+object+?
Example:
Had i been waiting for you for two hours?
Had he been writing the story since Monday?

I have discussed before on the correct usages of the conjunction ‘since/for’ before in Present Perfect Continuous Tense. Again, I am focusing on it here for your complete understanding.

Usages of ‘since’ and ‘for’

Usages of ‘for’:
If the time is period of time or indefinite, you have to use ‘for’ in structure.
For an example
I had been planning on the project for 3 days.
(Here, the time ‘3 days’ is not definite that which 3 days of a week are. So, here, ‘for’ has been used)

Usages of ‘since’:
If the time is point of time or definite, you have to use ‘since’ in structure.
For an example
I had been planning on the project since Sunday.
(Here, the time ‘Sunday’ is the definite and particular name of a day in a week. So, here, ‘since’ has been used)

Special Note:

If the time word is a definite figure from clock or calendars such as 10.00 a.m./Friday/January/2014, you will use ‘since’. But if the time word is not particular name or measurement such as 2 hours/3 days/5 years, you will use ‘for’ in sentences.

For more clear idea, notice these sentences below:
The boy had been working here for 5 years.
(from which year to which is not definite)

The boy had been working here since 2005.
( the year is particular and definite)
They had been playing football for 2 hours.
(which 2 hours of 24 hours is not definite)

They had been playing football since 4 p.m.
(from when is definite)

Now, I want to tell you something on the two actions or events in the past. Here, for connecting two sentences, you can use the conjunctions: ‘when, before, or after’. Now, the fact is that you can use the conjunction at the beginning of the sentence or in the middle of the two sentences. If you use the conjunction at the beginning, you will put a comma (,) between two sentences.

See these sentences:
When you reached there, I had been preparing for the journey for two hours.
Or,
I had been preparing for the journey for two hours when you reached there.

So, have a break now because we have covered all the topics elaborately. I hope, you will learn the ins and outs of Past Perfect Continuous Tense. If you have anything to know more, tell me on comment section below.

Thank you very much.