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Past Perfect vs Past Perfect Continuous (part II)

snowing day

When we reached the mountains it had been snowing for 3 days .


The past perfect continuous is formed by using the auxiliary had been+ing form of the verb  ( had been working ) .

AFFIRMATIVE     : I/you/he/she/it/we/they had been working .

NEGATIVE            :I/you/he/she/it/we/they had not( hadn’t) been working.

INTERROGATIVE :Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they been working ?


When do we use Past Perfect Continuous ?

We use Past Perfect Continuous to talk about the duration of an activity up to a point in the past .


We use the Present Perfect Continuous to talk about how long an activity had been going on up to the present .

Example. I have been working here for three months. ( I am still working here now .)

We use the Past Perfect Continuous to talk about the duration of an activity up to a point in the past .

Example . When I left my last job , I had been working there for four years. ( I started in 1990 and I left in 1994 ).

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Past Perfect vs Past Perfect Continuous(part I)

animal cat face close up feline
When I arrived home the party had already finished.

We form past perfect with had + past participle

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had worked .

I/you/he/she/it/we/they had not( hadn’t ) worked.

Had I/you/he/she/it/we/they worked?


had = ‘d             had not = hadn’t

Some verbs are ‘ regular’ , other verbs are ‘irregular’ :

  • The past participle of regular verbs has an -ed ending ( example: clean –cleaned , play–played )

When we add -ed to verbs , there are sometimes changes in spelling ( example : stop–stopped) .

  • Irregular verbs have different past participle forms ( eg. know –knew , sit–sat )

When do we use past perfect simple?

1. When we are talking about the past , sometimes when we refer back to an earlier past .

EARLIER PAST ————————————-   PAST

2. We use the past perfect ( eg. she had left ) to talk about something which had happend before the past time we are thinking about ( when I called ).

EXAMPLES . We arrieved at the party at 9:00 , but the show had started at 8:00 .

I couldn’t understand why Simon hadn’t returned the books .




Frequently asked questionsWhen do we use Past Simple or Past Continuous?

VERB TENSES- Past Simple vs Past Continuous


Past simple forms:

affirmative                                     negative                                 interrogative

 I worked                                    I did not work                            Did I work?

You /we/they worked              You/we/they did not work        Did we work?

He / she/ it worked                   He/she/it/ did not work             Did he work?

Past continuous(progressive) forms with was/were+…ing

affirmative                                   negative                                  interrogative

I was working                             I was not working                 was I working?

You/we/they were working    You were not working         Were you working?

CONTRACTIONS: did not=didn’t                       was not=wasn’t

were not = weren’t

In English Language some verbs are “regular” , other verbs are “irregular”

  • The affirmative past simple regular verbs ends in -ed ( example : work – worked)

The -ed ending is used to form the past tense and past participle of regular verbs (example:  played , watched ) .

English language has two past tenses .

  • We use the simple past for the complete finished actions. We often use it in stories .

    Example. I sent the letter yesterday .

    My father walked into the room .

  • We use the past progressive to talk about actions which were unfinished at a past time .

    Example . ‘What were you doing at 11:00 last night ?’ ‘ I was reading a book .’

Past tenses can make requests, questions and suggestions less direct , and so more polite.

Example . I wondered if you were free this evening.

How much did you want to spend ,sir?

I was wondering if I could talk to you for a second.

  • We use the past progressive  to talk about actions taking place during

    another actions in the past

    Ann was cleaning the house .( Sam came home during the cleaning)

When Sam came home , Ann cleaned the house .( First Sam came home , then Ann cleaned the house. )

  • Progressive forms are used mostly for temporary actions and situations . For longer , more permanent situations we prefer the simple past.

    Example . When I entered the house , the water was running down the stairs.

The Danube River ran into the Black Sea .

Nothing worth having wasnever achieved without effort.png


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VERB TENSES-Present Continuous vs Present Simple

We use Present Simple to talk about

  • something is true in general
  • something happens all the time or repeatedly


I am  ( I’m) reading

he/she/it is (it‘s) doing

we/you/they are ( they‘re) working

A. Moment of speaking . We use present continuous to talk about an activity taking      place at the moment of speaking :                                                                                              Example: Please don’t disturb me. I’m trying to work.

B. Current activities . We use present continuous to talk about actions or activities        that are taking place over a period of time( even if they are not taking place                  precisely at the moment of speaking) .

Example : I am reading a very interesting book at the moment. It’s an adventure                            book.                                                                                                                                                 Explanation I am not reading the book at the moment of speaking ; I have started it but I haven’t finished it . I am in the middle of reading it.

C. Temporary situations . We also use present continuous to indicate that an action        or activity is temporary rather than permanent .

Example : Mrs. Parker organizes our parties.                                                                                           ( Here we use Present Simple because this is generally true)

Mrs. Parker is away on vacation , so I am organizing them.

(Here the Present Continuous is used because this is true only for a                                  limited time.)


Present continuous (1).png




We use Present Simple to talk about things in general . We use it to say that

  • something happenns all the time or reapeatedly ,
  • something is true in general


I usually sleep late at weekends.

The shop opens at 7.30 in the morning .


I work                                                                He works

We work                                                            She works

You work                                                           It works

They work