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.    

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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.

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Past Continuous - GA5

I explained about the Key Verbs, be, do, and have and their inflected tenses in Grammar Activation Pack 1. I told you about the past tense, simple aspect in Grammar Activation Pack 3. I also explained the present tense, continuous aspect in Grammar Activation Pack 4. In this Grammar Activation Pack, I am going to tell you how the second of the key verbs, be, is used for the continuous aspect, past tense. 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


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Past Perfect - GA10

As you have already learnt, the past tense is indicted by the past forms of the three key verbs, do, be, and have. With do, the past is indicated by did for all persons. With be, the past is indicated by was for third persons, and were for all other persons. With have, the past is indicated by had for all persons. The past tense is shown by the inflected past form of the verb have, had, and this is used for all subjects. Past tense, perfect aspect is one of the least used of all the tense-aspect combinations in English. The past perfect has one main use and that it to talk about one thing that happened before another thing in the past. The past perfect basically talks about the past in the past. 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


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