Past Perfect Progressive (Verbs)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

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A verb construction (made up of had been + a present participle) that points to an activity or situation that was ongoing in the past. Also known as past perfect continuous.

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Examples and Observations

  • "He knew that she had been dreaming that night and he knew what her dreams were about."
    (W. Somerset Maugham, Christmas Holiday, 1939)
  • "For an hour the old man had been seeing black spots before his eyes and the sweat salted his eyes and salted the cut over his eye and on his forehead."
    (Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, 1952)
  • "If she had been pretending, she would have hidden for a reasonable time before coming out and telling her story."
    (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 1950)
  • "I felt like an extraordinary hero. I was only five or six and I had the whole of life in my hands. Even if I had been driving the carriage of the sun I could not have felt any better."
    (Dario Fo)
  • "The jaws fell, the ears drooped more limply. He had been looking like a dead fish. He now looked like a deader fish, one of last year's, cast up on some lonely beach and left there at the mercy of the wind and tides."
    (P.G. Wodehouse, Right Ho, Jeeves, 1934)
  • "I was sixteen years old and more, and I had not yet done anything the Grandfathers wanted me to do, but they had been helping me."
    (John G. Neihardt, Black Elk Speaks, 1932)
  • "Mr. Churchill was better than could be expected; and their first removal, on the departure of the funeral for Yorkshire, was to be to the house of a very old friend in Windsor, to whom Mr. Churchill had been promising a visit the last ten years."
    (Jane Austen, Emma)
  • "The past perfect progressive (had been + -ing) tells us about the length of the action and the specific point when it ended. It occurs frequently with since or for to specify the duration of the action."
    (Ann Raimes, Exploring Through Writing. Cambridge University Press, 1998)

Also Known As: past perfect continuous

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Your Citation
Nordquist, Richard. "Past Perfect Progressive (Verbs)." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Nordquist, Richard. (2020, August 27). Past Perfect Progressive (Verbs). Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "Past Perfect Progressive (Verbs)." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).