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    #1

    Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    After trying to answer a lot of other peoples' questions I now have one of my own.
    I've been asked to help someone with understanding the English verb tenses and that shouldn't be too difficult for me.
    The only problem so far has been trying to explain the difference between the (simple) past continuous and the past perfect continuous.
    I've done some internet researching, but that hasn't resolved the case.
    Could someone please explain to me in plain English the rules for using these tenses, preferably with some examples?
    I'd be much obliged.
    Last edited by PeterValk; 01-Feb-2014 at 05:42.
    Peter
    (I'm not a teacher or a native English speaker. I'm just trying to help...)

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    #2

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    We often use the past perfect when we give the duration of the action (I had been working for a couple of hours when they arrived) or if the action had recently finished (I could tell they had been arguing).

  1. konungursvia's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    Or if the action is interrupted by a more sudden, inchoate or ephemeral one.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Or if the action is interrupted by a more sudden, inchoate or ephemeral one.
    Before everyone runs for their dictionary, I'd like to point out that "inchoate" is very rarely used in standard English. "Ephemeral" is used more often but you'll find many people don't know what it means.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous


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    #6

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Ah! That makes sense now. I'm ready to "Like" konungursvia's post.

    PS: I did know the meaning of "ephemeral", though, it being so close (even orthographically) to Spanish "efímero" and Catalan "efímer".
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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    #7

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    Maybe my original post was not clear enough.
    I was wondering when to use one or the other. What's the difference?
    Peter
    (I'm not a teacher or a native English speaker. I'm just trying to help...)

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    We generally use continuous (progressive) forms when we wish wish to draw attention to the limited duration of the situation spoken of.

    I am writing my autobiography.
    I can see George now. He's walking towards the garage.

    What were you doing at the time of the murder?

    We generally use perfect forms when we are looking at a situation retrospectively; i.e., we base ourselves at one point in time and look back at a previous situation that is in some way related to the time in which we have based ourselves. That previous situation may, or may not, extend up to the later time. With the present perfect, the time base is the present moment. With the past pefect, it is some past time.

    I have lived in nine different flats since I moved to Prague.
    Lindsay and John have been married for ten years.
    They left England in 1998, They had been offered the chance to work together in China, and they had accepted it.

    Now, compare:

    At six o'clock yesterday, I was relaxing on the patio. I had been working all day, and I needed a break.

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    #9

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    I'll risk another post saying "thank you, 5jj" instead of just clicking "like"
    For some inexplicable reason you've made me see the light, using the same kind of explanation I've seen before.
    But somehow it's easier to understand coming from you.
    You have the gift!
    Peter
    (I'm not a teacher or a native English speaker. I'm just trying to help...)

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    #10

    Re: Past continuous and past perfect continuous

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterValk View Post
    I'll risk another post saying "thank you, 5jj" instead of just clicking "like"
    You can now click on 'thanks', thanks to Red5, the forum's webmaster.
    You have the gift!
    ... of the gab, perhaps.

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