Speak About:

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Past

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Abilities - Responsibilities

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Choosing the Right Phrase

Combining Verbs

Explaining Ideas

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Relating Ideas, People, Objects

Speaking about Objects

Wondering about Situations

What Had Been Happening Before Something Occurred

Past Perfect Continuous

The past perfect continuous expresses the duration of an activity up to another point in time in the past. The use of the past perfect continuous stresses that a certain activity had been going on before something important happened.

Example:

She had been working on the fixed exchange rate report for five hours when he asked for it.

They had been explaining the fixed exchange rate when the officer entered the hall.

How long had you been studying information technology before you decided to switch to finance?

Positive Form:

Subject + had + been + 'ing' form of verb + (object(s)) + time expression

The economy had been struggling through a bear market for so long that people didn't know how to react.

Negative Form:

Subject + had + not + been + 'ing' form of verb + (object(s)) + time expression

They hadn't been using that credit card account long when they used up their card's limit.

Question Form:

(Question Word) + had + subject + been + 'ing' form of verb?

How long had you been studying information technology before you decided to switch to finance?

Past Perfect Contrasted with Past Perfect Continuous

The past perfect expresses something that finishes before another activity in the past. The past perfect continuous, on the other hand, expresses the duration of an activity at the moment something important happened in the past.

Past Perfect Examples:

Did you gather all receipts before getting the final balance?

She hadn't had time to act on behalf of Jim before she made the presentation.

Past Perfect Continuous Examples:

She had been doing well financially until she wrote a bank draft for more than was in her account.

They hadn't been using that credit card account long when they used up their card's limit.