Past perfect continuous tense is an action that started in the past continued up until another time in the past. That means it expresses the continued nature of an action that started and stopped at some point in the past.
Definition: Past perfect continuous tense is used to describe a continuous action that started in the past up until another action in the past happened.
For example, It had been raining for several hours.
|Subject + had been + main verb + ing + object.
Example of Past Perfect Continuous Tense
He had been trying to get well in the exam.
She had been cooking for her children.
He had been breaking his leg by falling down from the tree.
I had been watching a movie yesterday.
We had been running for a few hours.
The Past perfect Continuous Tense includes a ‘time-reference’. There are two specific words ‘since’ and ‘for’ are used in past perfect continuous tense. The word ‘since’ is used if the particular initial time (e.g. Sunday, since 5 A.M) of the action. The word ‘for’ is used in past perfect continuous tense to express the amount of time (e.g. for five hours, for nine months) for which the action was sustained.
I had been reading the novel since last night.
They had been working hard since 6 A.M.
She had been studying at University for four years.
He had been walking for two hours.
She had been singing a song for half an hour for his performance.
|Structure: Subject + had not been + main verb + ing + extension.
|Example: He had not been going to college.
They had not been finishing their work.
He had not been trying to get well in the exam.
She had not been cleaning her room properly.
|Structure: Had + Subject + been + main verb + ing + extension.
|Example: Had he been going to his college?
Had she been cleaning her room?
Had I been watching the movie since yesterday?
Had he been preparing himself for the exam?
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Use of Past perfect Continuous Tense with Examples
When should we use past perfect continuous tense?
We use this tense to describe actions that were going on in the past and continued for some time in the past. For an action that has happened over a period of time has begun in the past. It is used regularly in the reported speech where the present perfect continuous tense becomes past perfect continuous tense.
Example: I had been reading a novel.
It had been raining hard for quite a few hours and the streets got flooded.