Past Perfect Continuous
USE 1- Duration Before Something in the Past
We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. “For five minutes” and “for two weeks” are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past.
USE 2- Cause of Something in the Past
Using the Past Perfect Continuous before another action in the past is a good way to show cause and effect.
Past Continuous vs. Past Perfect Continuous
If you do not include a duration such as “for five minutes,” “for two weeks” or “since Friday,” many English speakers choose to use the Past Continuous rather than the Past Perfect Continuous. Be careful because this can change the meaning of the sentence. Past Continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas Past Perfect Continuous emphasizes a duration of time before something in the past. Study the examples below to understand the difference.
REMEMBER- Non-Continuous Verbs / Mixed Verbs
It is important to remember that Non-Continuous Verbs cannot be used in any continuous tenses. Also, certain non-continuous meanings for Mixed Verbs cannot be used in continuous tenses. Instead of using Past Perfect Continuous with these verbs, you must use Past Perfect.
The examples below show the placement for grammar adverbs such as: always, only, never, ever, still, just, etc.
ACTIVE / PASSIVE
NOTE: Passive forms of the Past Perfect Continuous are not common.
Check out some of the other ‘Perfect Continuous Verb Tenses’