Britlish

Past Perfect Continuous - GA11

Aspect and Tenses Course Grammar

Grammar

These Activities focus on the grammar of English. English grammar compared to other grammars is quite simple, but in its simplicity lies its complexity. The Activities here cover all aspects of English grammar from the aspects and tenses to sentence structures. English grammar covers the structure of words, phrases, clauses, sentences, and entire texts. There are eight parts of speech in English: nouns, determiners, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and conjunctions. The largest of these parts of speech are the nouns which, unlike most European languages, do not have grammatical gender. English grammar has largely done away with the inflectional case system of other European languages and bases its grammar on analytic constructions. The Activities in this category will go some way to helping you get a better understanding of English grammar.    

Donate Newest All Categories Top Random Courses IPA Challenges Word Games

Regular verbs form their past tense by adding ed. Irregular verbs have a past tense form that you must learn individually. Remember, too, that the continuous aspect of the past tense is marked by the auxiliary verb be plus the ing form of a verb. If you see the verb be followed by an ing form, it’s the continuous aspect. Verb to be plus ing! is really all you need to know to identify the continuous aspect. So, if had plus a past participle gives us the perfect aspect, and be +ing gives us the continuous aspect, then together we get the past tense, perfect continuous aspect. While it is easy to name the aspects and the tenses, what is less clear is how, when, and where we should use the past perfect continuous.     

Aspect and Tenses Course

Past Perfect Continuous

Grammar Activation Pack 11

Perfect Aspect

Remember that perfect means finished or complete. Indeed, it is sometimes called the complete aspect.

Remember that the tenses are shown by the auxiliary verbs, be, do, and have.

The perfect aspect of the past tense is marked by the auxiliary verb had plus the past participle.

If we have the past tense of have, had, followed by a past participle, we have the past perfect.

Past Tense Verbs

Regular verbs form their past tense by adding ed.

Irregular verbs have a past tense form that you must learn individually.

To help you learn them, I have created an Irregular Verb Activator with 170 irregular English verbs which you can get as part of your FREE welcome pack at Britlish.com.

Continuous Aspect

Remember, too, that the continuous aspect of the past tense is marked by the auxiliary verb be plus the ing form of a verb.

If you see the verb be followed by an ing form, it’s the continuous aspect.

Verb to be plus ing! is really all you need to know to identify the continuous aspect.

Perfect Continuous Aspect

So, if had plus a past participle gives us the perfect aspect, and be +ing gives us the continuous aspect, then together we get the past tense, perfect continuous aspect.

I had been teaching in schools for 5 years before I decided to teach exclusively online using Skype.

While it is easy to name the aspects and the tenses, what is less clear is how, when, and where we should use the past perfect continuous.

Let me help you with that right away.

Past Perfect Continuous

In this Grammar Activation Pack, we will look at the past tense, perfect continuous aspect.

The past tense tells us about things which happened in the past.

The perfect aspect uses a past participle, and this also talks about the past.

The continuous aspect talks about something happening over a period of time; in this case from an earlier time in the past to another later time in the past.

Like the past perfect, the past perfect continuous talks about an earlier past in a later past.

Let’s look at some examples of usage to see what this means.

Continuation From Earlier to Later Past

I had been teaching in schools before I began teaching online.

An unfinished action in progress from an earlier time in the past until a later time in the past.

Continuation From Earlier to Later Past

Students had been asking for these English Activation Packs for ages before I started making them.

Repeated continuous actions in progress from an earlier past time until a later time in the past.

Closed Questions

Closed questions get a yes or no response.

Had I been doing it?

Had we been doing it?

Had you been doing it?

Had they been doing it?

Had he been doing it?

Had she been doing it?

Had it been doing it?

Positive Statements

I had been doing it.

We had been doing it.

You had been doing it.

They had been doing it.

He had been doing it.

She had been doing it.

It had been doing it.

Negative Statements

I had not been doing it.

We had not been doing it.

You had not been doing it.

They had not been doing it.

He had not been doing it.

She had not been doing it.

It had not been doing it.

Open Questions

Open questions get more information than closed questions.

Why had I been doing it?

Where had we been doing it?

When had you been doing it?

What had they been doing?

Who had been doing it?

How had she been doing it?

How had it been doing it?

Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are questions that have an obvious answer and are used to draw attention to something or express frustration, anger, or other emotions.

We begin these yes/no rhetorical questions with the contracted form of had not.

Hadn’t I been doing it?

Hadn’t she been doing it?

These questions suggest you expect a yes response and express frustration.

Questions About Time

Closed questions get a yes or no answer.

Open questions get more detailed answers to 5WH questions.

Sometimes we want to find out the duration of a particular action from an earlier time in the past to a later time in the past.

We get this information by asking a past perfect continuous question starting with how long.

How long had you been writing for before becoming an English teacher?

I had been writing since the 1980s.

I had been writing for over 20 years.

For

For is used with the past perfect continuous to introduce a period of time.

How long had you been living in England (for) before you moved to Spain?

We don’t have to use for in a spoken question, but we do in the answer.

I had been living in England for 40 years before I moved to Spain.

Since

Since is used with the past perfect continuous to show a continuation from an earlier past time to a later past time.

How long had you been living in England before you moved to Spain?

I had been living in England since 1961.

Past in the Past

We could tell the story of Captain Britlish’s twisted knee using the past perfect continuous with the past simple:

Captain Britlish had been practicing Kung Fu before he twisted his knee.

The past perfect continuous tells us that Captain Britlish had been doing something up to the point in time when his knee was twisted.

Position Irrelevant

It does not matter where the past perfect continuous comes in the sentence. The past perfect continuous always refers to the past in the past.

Before he twisted his knee, Captain Britlish had been practicing Kung Fu.

How Long?

When we use action verbs, those which we can use in the continuous form, we use the past perfect continuous to say how long something had occurred from an earlier past up to a later time in the past.

Before Captain Britlish twisted his knee, Schwa had been taking Kung Fu classes with him for many years.

Things that Failed to Happen

One other thing we can use the past perfect continuous for is to talk about hopes or wishes that did not happen.

Captain Britlish had been hoping to teach Schwa a new Kung Fu technique, but as he had twisted his knee and was in hospital, it was not possible.

As Captain Britlish had twisted his knee and was in hospital, it was not possible for him to teach Schwa the new Kung Fu technique he had been hoping to teach.

Aspect and Tenses

A comprehensive English course covering the tenses and aspects of English in an easy-to-understand format with lots of self-test exercises to check your understanding. You will learn all you need to know about the 3 Key Verbs of English: Be, Do, Have. This course will let you see just how simple English grammar is. We will explore the present simple, the past simple, the present continuous, the post continuous, the present perfect and the present perfect past and present, along with present perfect time markers, the present perfect continuous, the past perfect and the past perfect continuous.

Responsive image

Aspects and Tenses - GA1

Welcome to the first in my series of Grammar Activation Packs at Britlish.com. Together, the Grammar Activation Packs combine to provide you with a clear overview of English grammar in use. When I teach grammar to my students, I first teach them what I call the three keys to English grammar. The three keys are the three verbs, do, be, and have. Understand these three verbs and you will see just how easy English grammar really is. I have created some fun exercises to help you activate what you have learnt. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.

Categories: Grammar | English in Use


Responsive image

Future 1 - GA12

In the previous Grammar Activation Packs I have introduced you to the present and the past tenses, along with the simple, continuous, and perfect aspects. I also mentioned that English has only the two tenses, present and past. So where does this leave us when we want to talk about the future? Don’t worry, there are several ways that we can talk about the future, including using the present tense, which is what I am going to explain in this lesson. There are two aspects of the present tense that we can use to talk about the future. We can use the simple aspect which uses the auxiliary verb do. We can also use the continuous aspect, which uses the auxiliary verb be, and the ing form of a non-finite verb.    

Categories: Grammar | Phrasal Verbs


Responsive image

Future 2 - GA13

In the previous Grammar Activation Packs I have introduced you to the present and the past tenses, along with the simple, continuous, and perfect aspects. I also mentioned that English has only the two tenses, present and past. This lesson looks at Will or Shall for Future, Asking for Decisions, Promises and Threats, Decisions Made at the Moment, Predicting, Conditionals, Giving Orders or Instructions, Negative Will for Refusals, Negative Shall for Refusals, things Not Rooted in Present, and Future Time Indicators. This British English grammar is essential for all students of English and the many exercises in the pack will help you master it quickly and enjoyably.    

Categories: Grammar


If you are on a mobile device, or want to open the lesson in a new window, click the button below. The lesson will open in a popup window.

Popup Lesson



Use your study record to set lessons as completed, rate them with a 1-5 star rating, record vocabulary from the lesson for future reference, and take notes about the lesson for future reference.

Not Complete!

You have not completed this lesson yet. To complete it, click the Complete Lesson button.

Donate Complete Lesson Completed Lessons


Lesson Rating

You have not rated this lesson.

Donate Rate This All Ratings


Lesson Vocabulary

You have not created any vocabulary items for this lesson yet.

Donate Add New Vocabulary All Vocabulary


Lesson Notes

You have not created any notes for this lesson yet.

Donate Create Notes All Notes


Learn English with the most innovative and engaging English lessons available anywhere on the Internet and all completely free of charge! To personalise your experience in the Britlish Library and to keep track of the lessons you have studied and the vocabulary you have recorded, or the notes you have made about each class, sign up for a free account today.