The Past Perfect Continuous tense is formed with the auxiliary verb to be in the Past Perfect(had been) and Participle I (V-ing) of the notional verb. In the interrogative form the first auxiliary verb is placed before the subject.
The negative-interrogative form: Had he not been writing? Hadnít he been writing?
In the negative form the negative particle not is placed after the first auxiliary verb.
It had been working
Had it been working?
How long had you been
working before retiring ?
It had not been working
The Past Perfect Continuous tense is used:
1. to express an action, which had been in the progress before a definite moment in the past and was still going on at that moment.
I had been reading about an hour when he came.
The Past Perfect Continuous is often used with for and since for the past actions.
When the actress arrived, a crowd had been waiting for several hours to greet her.
2. to denote an action which was no longer going on at a definite moment in the past, but which had been in progress not long before.
He was tired. He had been repairing the roof of the house.
Remember that the Present Perfect Continuous becomes the Past Perfect Continuous in Reported Speech. (have/has been doing → had been doing)
Ex. 1.Read the following conversation and analyse the usage of the Past Prefect Continuous tense.
Alex = A, Betty = B
A: Have you passed your driving test at last?
B: Yes, I passed it a month ago.
A: My congratulations! How long had you been trying to pass it?
B: For six months.
A: I suppose you had been having lessons all that time.
B: Thatís right. It had cost me about a thousand pounds.
A: I heard you had also been saving for buying a car. How long had you been saving?
B: Since last year.
A: Well, all the best with your car driving.
B: Thank you.
Ex. 2.Use the Past Perfect Continuous tense.
Model: We (sit) in the cafe for half an hour until it stopped raining.
We had been sitting in the cafe for half an hour until it stopped raining.
1. She (study) English for two years before she got this job.
2. Ė What the children (do) before they went to bed?
Ė They (do) their homework for two hours.
3. We (wait) for three-and-a half hours when John finally arrived. I wonder what he (do) all that time.
4. Bill (do) military service for eighteen months. Yesterday he returned home.
5. We (travel) for about four hours when I realized that something was wrong with one of the tyres.
6. He (work) in the garden, but he stopped when he saw us.
7. I couldnít drive to work because my sister (use) my car for a month and something was wrong with the car.
Ex. 3.Read a situation and then write a sentence.
Model: Tom was watching television. He was feeling very tired. He (study) hard all day. Ė He had been studying hard all day.
1. When I walked into the room, it was empty. But there was a smell of cigarettes. (somebody/smoke/in the room).
2. When Mary came back from the beach, she looked very red from the sun. (she/lie/in the sun too long).
3. The two boys came into the house. They had a football and they were both very dirty. (they/play/football).
4. Ann woke up in the middle of the night. She was frightened and she didnít know where she was. (she/dream).
5. She spoke English well when she visited Canada. (she/study /English/for five years).
6. I wrote to the firm regularly, but they still didnít answer.(for months).
7. We were cooking for the party. By 8 oíclock we still werenít ready. (all day).
Ex. 4.Describe a situation in one sentence using the Past Perfect Continuous tense.
Model: a) We began playing football. After half an hour there was a terrible storm.
We had been playing football for half an hour before there was a terrible storm.
b) The children were making a terrible noise. They were punished.
The children were punished because they had been making a terrible noise.
1. The orchestra began playing at the concert. Ten minutes later a woman in the audience suddenly began crying.
2. I had arranged to meet Tom in a restaurant. I arrived and began waiting. After 20 minutes I realized that I had come to the wrong restaurant.
3. Mr and Mrs Jenkins went to live in the south of France. Six months later Mr Jenkins fell ill.
4. A month ago I broke my umbrella and took it to the nearest repair shop. Yesterday I took my umbrella back.
5. Mr Finch decided to save for buying a new house. Three years later he bought the house he wanted.
6. The child was playing in the yard. Two hours later his mother called him home.
7. The farmers were making hay in the meadow. Some hours later it started raining.
Ex. 5.Use the correct tense in the following sentences.
1. When the boys came into the room, their shoes were dirty. They (play) football in the yard.
2. I was very tired when I arrived home. I (work) hard all day.
3. We (play) tennis for about half an hour when it started raining very heavily.
4. My father gave up smoking a year ago. He (smoke) for 30 years.
5. At last the bus came. I (wait) for 20 minutes.
6. My Mother was sitting in the armchair watching TV-set. She was tired because she (clean) the house all evening.
7. They (repair) the lift for two hours before it started working again.
8. He (serve) in the army for a year when the war broke out.
9. The travellers (walk) through the forest for an hour when they discovered that they had lost their way.
10. Annís eyes ached because she (use) the computer all day long.
11. When he phoned, I (have) a piano lesson for half an hour.
12. The children were happy. They (swim) in the pool for a long time.
Ex. 6.Complete the following conversation, using the verbs in the proper past tense.
Gary: Jean, Iím surprised to see you.
Jean: Well, I think you owe me an explanation.
Gary: Me? What about you? I 1) ___ (see) you in the cafe last night. We 2) ___ (arrange) to meet at the cinema, if you remember.
Jean So why you 3) ___ (not to come) into the cafe if you saw me?
Gary: I 4) ___ (be) too angry and cold. I 5) ___ (wait) outside the cinema for three-quarters of an hour.
Jean: But why? You 6) ___ ( not to get) my note?
Gary: What note?
Jean: The note I 7) ___ (leave) here yesterday afternoon. When I 8) ___ (go) past the cinema yesterday lunchtime I 9) ___ (notice) that they 10) ___ (change) the film. So I 11) ___ (put) a note under your door to tell you.
Gary: I 12) ___ (not to find) any note.
Jean: It must be here. Let me look. Yes, oh dear. Iím afraid it 13) ___ (slip) under the mat.
Gary: Oh. Iím sorry I was angry. Itís just that, well, while I 14) ___ (wait), I was worried about what 15) ___ (happen) to you. And then, I 16) ___ (see) you in the cafe. You 17) ___ (laugh) with your friends and I 18) ___ (realize) that you 19) ___ (sit) there quite comfortably with them all evening. I 20) ___ (just lose) my temper.
Jean: Never mind. Lets forget it. Where shall we go now?
Ex. 7. Complete the conversation. Put the verbs in the Past Perfect Continuous or in the Past Perfect.
Richard = R; Vicky = V.
R: How was your job interview?
V: Awful. I felt terribly nervous. I 1) ___ (worry) about it all week. And I was tired because I 2) ___ (work ) on my project the night before. I 3) ___ (not to look) forward to the interview at all.
R: So what happened?
V: The woman interviewing me was half an hour late because she 4) ___ (deal) with an unexpected problem, she said.
R: How did the interview go?
V: Well, I tried to sound confident. For two weeks I 5) ___ (read) a book that says what you have to do in job interviews. But I donít know if I gave the right answer.
R: Donít worry. I think you were the best among the other candidates, besides you 6) ___ (train) as a cook for six months.