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I'm wondering if the past progressive is possible in the following sentence:
I picked up the phone; it was Joe. He immediately asked me why I was out of breath. I told him I had been looking for my hamster that had escaped from his cage.
I think it is. Am I right?
Thank you, emsr2d2!
But what if he (or she?) had found the hamster just before the phone call, but was still out of breath because of searching for him? Would such a context justify the usage of the past perfect progressive?
If the hamster hadn't been found when he answered the phone, he would say "Yes, I'm out of breath because I'm in the middle of looking for my escaped hamster". In reported speech that would read "He told him he was looking for his escaped hamster."
If the hamster has been found then it would be "I was looking for my escaped hamster." In reported speech, that would be "He told him he had been looking for his escaped hamster."
I was playing basketball _______ He said ( that ) he had been playing basketball.
I was looking for my escaped hamster. _________He said( that) he had been looking for his escaped hamster.
In direct speech you could use the present perfect continuous or the simple past. In my opinion the present perfect continuous would suggest that the looking had been going on for some time.
Last edited by bhaisahab; 28-Oct-2011 at 20:40. Reason: Correct mistake.
For direct speech, if the hamster hasn't been found:
1) "I'm looking for my hamster."
2) "I've been looking for my hamster."
For direct speech, if the hamster has been found:
"I was looking for my hamster" or "I've been looking for my hamster for hours but it's OK, I have now found him."