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English Grammar Reference: The Past Perfect Continuous

We use the past perfect continuous when there are 2 actions in the past. The first action lasted a long time and we use the past perfect continuous to describe it. The action stops when the second action takes place. For the second action we use the past simple.

I had been living in Italy for 3 years before I went to Rome.

I'd been watching television for half an hour when I fell asleep.

Look at the construction:

Subject

had

been

-ing form of verb

I

had

been

sleeping

for 2 hours when the phone rang.

They

had

been

waiting

for an hour before she arrived.

Look at the question form:

Question word

Auxiliary

Subject

Verb

 

How long

had

you

been sleeping

when they woke you up ?

I'd been sleeping for 2 hours.

How long

had

you

been going out together

before you decided to get married?

We'd been going out together for 6 months.