Past Perfect Progressive Tense

(also called Past Perfect Continuous)


Past Perfect Progressive is not a very common tense in English. But you should know it well, and understand it when it is used.

Check out our new series of illustrated workbooks:
Stories and Exercises to Practice the Perfect Tenses

Stories and Exercises to Practice the Progressive Tenses


What's next?

  1. Read and understand the following explanations and examples

  2. Read and understand the Rules

  3. Practice, practice, practice with the Exercises


How do We Use the this Tense?

PERFECT here means "complete, finished".

The Past Perfect Progressive is a form of the verb that shows the action started in the past and continued up until another time or action in the past.

It does not mean the action was "perfect" (100%). It means the action was finished.

Here are the different usages of this tense:

The Past Perfect Progressive is often used together with the Simple Past.

For example: Sam had been driving all night before he reached home.

The action closest to the present is in the Simple Past, and the action that came before it is in the Past Perfect Progressive.


Make sure you also read:

Examples of Typical Time Expressions


An action that started in the past,
and continued up until another time
or action in the past 

(The verbs are in bold)



He had been driving for hours before he arrived.

a car on the road




He had been carrying that computer for an hour before he put it down.

a man carrying a large computer



He had been fighting with that machine
for a long time until the mechanic arrived.

a man forcefully holding a lever




He had been drawing for some hours before he got it right.

an artist working



They danced so nicely because they had been practicing.

a nice couple dancing



He had been exercising so he could lift it easily.

a man lifting weights



He fell asleep because he had been working all night.

a man sleeping on his desk


Examples of
Typical Time Expressions

  • For
  • Since
  • All morning
  • All day

Boy writing happily


What's Next?

  1. If you want, you can REREAD the previous explanations and examples

  2. Read and understand the Rules

  3. Practice, practice, practice with the Exercises

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