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    #1

    Lightbulb "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    Hi,

    the main difference between "past perfect continuus" and "past continuous" is clear to me. Despite the fact that I am familiar with these two tenses I need your help.


    • When I phoned, they all had been saying their prayers. (I phoned after the prayers.)
    • When I phoned, they all were saying their prayers. (I phoned during the prayers.)


    Is it correct to think that "past perfect continuous" (in a sentence without time expression) is used for an action which is already finished at that time but we put more emphasis on duration?

    But what's the difference between these two sentences then?



    • When I phoned, they all had been saying their prayers for an hour. (Is this action still in progress when they arrive?)
    • When I phoned, they all were saying their prayers.


    Thank you so much!

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    Welcome to the forum.

    In all of your examples, the position of "all" is unnatural.

    When I phoned, they were all saying their prayers. (You phoned during prayers.)
    When I phoned, they had all said their prayers. (The prayers were over.)
    When I phoned, they had all been saying their prayers for an hour. (The prayers are still in progress and had been in progress for an hour.)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #3

    Re: "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Welcome to the forum.

    In all of your examples, the position of "all" is unnatural.

    When I phoned, they were all saying their prayers. (You phoned during prayers.)
    When I phoned, they had all said their prayers. (The prayers were over.)
    When I phoned, they had all been saying their prayers for an hour. (The prayers are still in progress and had been in progress for an hour.)
    Thanks for your answer. Is it possible that the sentence with time expression in past perfect continuous would mean that the action was not still in progress at the stated time? Does it depend on the context in which it is used?
    Last edited by Just_a_little_person; 18-May-2015 at 01:09.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    Quote Originally Posted by Just_a_little_person View Post
    Is it possible that the sentence with time expression in past perfect continuous would mean that the action was not still in progress at the stated time? Does it depend on the context in which it is used?
    Yes, you could be clearer.
    "When I phoned, they had all finished saying their prayers. (I phoned after the prayers.)"

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    #5

    Re: "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    Thank you for all your answers. Could you tell me what is the difference between these sentences, please? Comment on all of them, please.

    1) She'd been painting the room when he was taken into hospital.
    2) She'd been painting the room for an hour when he was taken into hospital.
    3) She'd painted the room when he was taken into hospital.
    4) She painted the room when he was taken into hospital.
    5) She was painting the room when he was taken into hospital.
    Last edited by Just_a_little_person; 21-May-2015 at 00:33.

  3. Skrej's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: "Past perfect continuous" versus "past continuous"

    1) She'd been painting the room when he was taken into hospital.
    She was painting, and he went to the hospital. Emphasis is on the fact that she had been painting before he went to the hospital. It's unclear whether or not she was finished or still painting at the time he went to the hospital.

    2) She'd been painting the room for an hour when he was taken into hospital.
    Similar to #1, except we now know that she wasn't finished painting at the time he went to the hospital.

    3) She'd painted the room when he was taken into hospital.
    She had finished painting, then he went to the hospital.

    4) She painted the room when he was taken into hospital.
    He went to the hospital first, then she painted the room afterwards.

    5) She was painting the room when he was taken into hospital.
    She was painting at the time he went to the hospital. Emphasis is on the fact that his going interrupted her painting.

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