Past Perfect Continuous Tense

This tense is used to express an action that started in past and continued for some time in past. It states the continued nature of an action which started at some point in past, continued for some (more or less specific) time in past. Therefore, a time-reference is given in the sentence to show when the action started in the past or for how long the action was continued in past. This time-reference distinguishes past perfect continuous tense from ordinary past continuous tense where the time of continuity of action is generally not specified. 

The specific words ‘since’ and ‘for” are used in the sentence to show the time of action.

  • If the exact starting time of the action (e.g., Monday, 3 P.M) is known, the word ‘since’ is used before the time in the sentence.
  • If the exact starting time of an action is not known but only the duration of time for which the action was being continued (e.g., three hours, five months, four years) is known, the word ‘for’ is used.

Structure of Sentence:

Main verb: 1st form of verb + ing. e.g., sleeping, buying, working.
Helping verb: Had been.


 Subject + helping verb + main verb + since/for + time.
 Subject + had been + (1st form of verb + ing) + since/for + time.


He had been living in London since 2010.
She had been working in a hospital for four years.
They had been running a business since 20th March 2003.
He had been studying in this college for seven months.
She had been writing a story since Monday.
I had been decorating my house for three days.
She had been washing her clothes since morning.
We had been watching television since 10 AM.
I had been waiting for the train for five hours.
He had been applying for jobs since June 2019.
They had been planning about their marriage for two years.
We had been helping poor people for six months.
He had been reading this book for three weeks.
It had been raining for seven days.
Kids had been watching a movie for three hours.


In negative sentences, the word ‘not’ is added between ‘had’ and ‘been’, making it ‘had not been’.

 Subject + had not been + (1st form of verb + ing) + since/for + time.


She had not been living in America since 2016.
He had not been using his car for three years.
They had not been playing football since 20th September 2018.
He had not been earning money for six months.
She had not been teaching the kids since Monday.
You had not been studying your book for three days.
The patient had not been eating food since morning.
They had not been watching television since 2 PM.
He had not been replying to me for five hours.
They had not been going to school for three months.
She had not been washing her clothes for seven days.


The question sentence starts with ‘had’ and the word ‘been’ comes after the subject inside the sentence.

 Had + subject + been + (1st form of verb + ing) + since/for + time.


Had he been working as an engineer since 2005?
Had she been using the same car for ten years?
Had they been selling chairs since April 2001?
Had you been trying to get a job for three months?
Had he been going to school since Tuesday?
Had the patient been taking his medicine for five days?
Had we been wasting our time for four days?
Had the kids been playing with toys since morning?
Had you been waiting for me since 11 AM?
Had they been cleaning their house for four hours?
Had the baby been drinking milk for two years?
Had they been working on their project since 2015?
Had he been eating vegetable for seven months?
Had she been using the same car since 2004?
Had you been using this camera since 15th September 2018?