Past perfect continuous

دوره: گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه / اپیزود 44

گرامر انگلیسی در شش دقیقه

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Past perfect continuous

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Do you want to talk about past events that happened before other past events? The past perfect continuous can help. Find out more with Neil and Catherine in this episode of 6 Minute Grammar.

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Neil
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Grammar with me, Neil.

Catherine
And me, Catherine. Today, we’re talking about the past perfect continuous tense …

Neil … which we use to give background information to an event in the past. We’ll give you lots of examples.

Catherine We’ll explain when to use the past perfect simple instead of the past perfect continuous…

Neil … and of course we’ll finish with a quiz.

Catherine Let’s start with an example. Here’s Finn.

Finn Joe and Alice got together in 2012. Joe had been living in London for two years when they met.

Catherine So, we use the past perfect continuous to talk about something that was happening before another event or situation in the past. We can use it when we want to say how long this earlier action was happening for.

Neil Now, in this case Joe had been living tells us what Joe was doing up to the time he met Alice.

Catherine That’s right. And the later action when they met was in the past simple. Let’s hear that example again.

Finn Joe and Alice got together in 2012. Joe had been living in London for two years when they met.

Neil Here’s another example. Which action happened first?

Finn We had been trying to open the door for five minutes when I finally found the key.

Neil So we had been trying , in the past perfect continuous, was the earlier action.

Catherine Exactly. Sometimes, the action or situation that happens first in time comes second in the sentence. Listen to this:

Finn Jack ran the marathon in less than three hours. He had been training for it since 2010.

Neil So, the past perfect continuous phrase he had been training came in the second part of the sentence, but it happened earlier in time.

Catherine Yes. And the event that happened later in time: Jack ran the marathon , was in the past simple and came first in the sentence.

Neil Right. So, here’s another sentence. Can you work out which action or happened first?

Finn He missed the train, which he’d been hoping to catch.

Catherine The earlier action was he ‘d been hoping .

Neil That’s right. So, in that example the past perfect continuous was in a relative clause: which he had been hoping …

Catherine That’s quite common with the past perfect continuous. And another common structure to use with past perfect continuous is a time conjunction, like this:

Finn After I had been swimming for an hour, I was so cold I had to stop.

Neil So, we had after plus I had been swimming.

Catherine Yes, and that is the past perfect continuous in relative clauses and after time conjunctions.

Neil Now, we form the past perfect continuous with subject plus had been and the present participle of the main verb. Here are those examples again, Finn.

Finn Joe had been living…

We’d been trying…

I had been swimming…

Catherine For negative sentences, it’s subject plus hadn’t been and the present participle.

Finn I hadn’t been waiting very long when the bus arrived.

Neil And don’t forget those short forms: I had becomes I’d ; We had is we’d ; had not is hadn’t and so on.

IDENT 6 Minute Grammar from the BBC.

Catherine And we’re talking about the past perfect continuous.

Neil We often use it to give background information about a situation or event that was happening up to another event in the past…

Catherine … which is usually in the past simple.

Neil Sometimes we can use either the past perfect simple or the past perfect continuous, particularly for activities that continue for a long time, like work, run or sleep .

Catherine So we can say:

Finn
Patrick felt refreshed because he had slept all afternoon.

Catherine
Or we can say:

Finn Patrick felt refreshed because he had been sleeping all day.

Catherine But if the earlier action had been completed, then we use the past perfect simple.

Finn I’d already cooked supper when Jan got home.

Catherine If the earlier action is incomplete, use the past perfect continuous, to focus on the process or length of time that the action continued, rather than the end result.

Neil And, now it’s time for our quiz. Which is correct? Number one: a) I’d only been waiting a few minutes when the bus arrived. b) I only waited a few minutes when the bus had arrived.

Catherine
It ‘s a). We need the past perfect continuous for the earlier action or situation.

Neil Correct. Number 2: a) After they’d been walking for three hours, they realised they were lost. b) After they walked for three hours, they’d realised they were lost.

Catherine And it’s a) again. The earlier action was the walking, so that’s in the past perfect continuous.

Neil Good, finally, number 3: a) Sam finally bought the car that he’d saved up for. b) Sam finally bought the car that he’d been saving up for.

Catherine And this time, both are correct.

Neil That’s right. Well done if you got them all right. There’s lots more about this on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Grammar.

Both Bye.

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