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Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

The past perfect continuous tense is used to indicate an action that happened continuously in the past before something else occurred. The action is completed at some point in the past.

The form of the past perfect continuous tense is had + been + -ing.

Example:

The boys had been playing soccer for about an hour when it started to rain.

(The boys had been playing before it started to rain. The boys playing is the continuous action in the past that was interrupted by the rain.)

Uses

  • We use the past perfect continuous tense to show an action going on in the past when something else happened.
    Example:
    She had been using he computer when the electricity supply was suddenly cut off.
  • We use the past perfect continuous tense in indirect speech while reporting an action in the present perfect continuous tense.
    Example: He said that he had been writing for about an hour.
    (The direct speech would be ‘He said, “I have been writing for about an hour.”’)

Worksheet 1

Use the past perfect continuous form of the verb in brackets, to fill in the blanks.

  • They said that John …………………… (run) across the road.
  • Mrs.Chen ……………………… (cook) for an hour when the doorbell rang.
  • We …………………… (clean) the room for an hour when we found the treasure map.
  • They said that they ………………. (build) the house for the last five months.
  • I told Mary that I ………………………. (fish) since morning.
  • The crowd …………………………… (shout) for fifteen minutes before someone managed to calm them down.
  • Rosie said that the baby ………………………… (cry) for about fifteen minutes.
  • They said that the boy ………………………….. (trespass) when the dogs chased him.
  • The police ………………………….. (investigate) the robbery when an informer gave them a new lead.
  • The teacher reported that her students ………………….. (prepare) very well for the examination.

Answers

  • They said that John had been running across the road.
  • Mrs.Chen had been cooking for an hour when the doorbell rang.
  • We had been cleaning the room for an hour when we found the treasure map.
  • They said that they had been building the house for the last five months.
  • I told Mary that I had been fishing since morning.
  • The crowd had been shouting for fifteen minutes before someone managed to calm them down.
  • Rosie said that the baby had been crying for about fifteen minutes.
  • They said that the boy had been trespassing when the dogs chased him.
  • The police had been investigating the robbery when an informer gave them a new lead.
  • The teacher reported that her students had been preparing very well for the examination.

Worksheet 2

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate tense form of the verbs in brackets.

A long time ago, there …………. (be) a very old and wise man in Egypt. Many people came to him for advice on life.

Once, a young couple approached the wise man. They told him that they ………………… (fight) with each other almost every day.

“We ………………….. (decide) to live separately. Do you have any advice for us?” they ……………….. (ask).

The wise man ………………. (think) for a while, and then said, “Please do as I say. From today onwards, one of you should keep your mouth filled with water, taking turns. When the husband ……………… (spit) the water out, immediately, the wife has to get her mouth filled. At any given time, one of you should have your mouth full of water.”

The couple was mystified. However, they went home and ……………… (follow) the wise man’s advice. Soon, they found that they could not ……………… (fight) anymore, because when the husband tried to argue about something, there was water in the wife’s mouth, and when the wife tried to argue about something, the husband had water in his mouth.

Soon, there ……………… (be) no more fights. The couple …………………. (realize) that just by keeping quiet, they could avoid many problems.

Answers

A long time ago, there was a very old and wise man in Egypt. Many people came to him for advice on life.

Once, a young couple approached the wise man. They told him that they had been fighting with each other almost every day.

“We have decided to live separately. Do you have any advice for us?” they asked.

The wise man thought for a while, and then said, “Please do as I say. From today onwards, one of you should keep your mouth filled with water, taking turns. When the husband spits the water out, immediately the wife has to get her mouth filled.

At any given time, one of you should have your mouth full of water.”

The couple was mystified. However, they went home and followed the wise man’s advice. Soon, they found that they could not fight any more, because when the husband tried to argue about something, there was water in the wife’s mouth, and when the wife tried to argue about something, the husband had water in his mouth.

Soon, there were no more fights. The couple realized that just by keeping quiet, they could avoid many problems.

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