Past perfect progressive


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The past perfect progressive, also called the pluperfect progressive is a compound verb form. It requires three verbs: the simple past of the auxiliary verb HAVE (had), the past participle of the verb BE (been), and a present participle (verb+ing). Before you continue, review these lessons: Verb HAVE | Present participle | Past perfect

subject aux.
verb
past
part.
present
participle
 
I had been sleeping deeply.
The boys had been playing football.
It had been raining all night.

The past perfect progressive is used to talk about on ongoing action that was occurring in the past before another event occurred in the past.

I had been sleeping deeply when the thunder awoke me.

Here is a diagram to help make this more clear.

Note that there are three events on the timeline:

  • I was sleeping.
  • I awoke.
  • Now, I am telling you what happened.

Here is another example:

Two days ago the streets were slippery because it had been raining all night.

Again, there are three events on the timeline:

  • It rained all night.
  • The roads were slippery the next day.
  • Now, two days later, I am telling you about this.

Warning! Some native English speakers might use the past progressive in the second clause instead of the past perfect progressive; however, this is incorrect.

correct   incorrect
Two days ago the streets were slippery because it had been raining all night. Two days ago the streets were slippery because it was raining all night.

 
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