Main Difference – Past Perfect vs Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous are two of the most complicated tenses in the past. Past perfect is used for actions that have been completed in the past whereas past perfect continuous can be used for an ongoing action in the past. This is the main difference between past perfect and past perfect continuous.
What is Past Perfect
Past perfect indicates an action that has started and finished in the past. It is formed by adding ‘had’ to the past participle of the verb.
He had read the book.
They had killed many soldiers.
This tense gives the sense that some action has ended before another action takes place. To understand this concept better, look at the following examples.
He had lost consciousness before the ambulance reached the hospital.
First: He lost consciousness.
Next: Ambulance reached the hospital.
Before my mother got home, I had already cooked dinner.
First: I cooked dinner
Next: Mother got home
When we are talking about two actions that happened in the past, we can use the past perfect tense with the first action that happened.
Past perfect can be also used for things that were done several times in the past and continued to do after that point.
She had written six novels. She is working on the seventh.
What is Past Perfect Continuous
Past perfect continuous or past perfect progressive indicates that an ongoing action has ended in the past. Past Perfect Continuous is formed by adding ‘had been’ to the present participle of the verb.
She had been reading.
They have been waiting.
It emphasizes that the action continued for a certain period of time.
He had been waiting for two hours when he received the news that the meeting was cancelled.
She had been living there all her life. She didn’t want to move.
Neal had been studying all morning. He wanted to get good marks.
When the past perfect continuous is used to talk about the duration of an action prepositions like for and since are often used.
Difference Between Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect is used to indicate that an action ended in the past before another one started.
Past Perfect Continuous is used to indicate that an ongoing action ended at a certain point in the past.
Past Perfect can be used for the first action when we are talking about two actions in the past.
Past Perfect Continuous can be used to indicate the duration of an action.
Past Perfect is formed by adding ‘had’ to the past participle of the verb.
Past Perfect Continuous is formed by adding ‘had been’ to the present participle of the verb.
Past Perfect uses the past participle.
Past Perfect Continuous uses the present participle.
Past Perfect is not used to describe the background
Past Perfect Continuous is often used to describe the background.
Past Perfect can be used with stative verbs.
Past Perfect Continuous is rarely used with stative verbs.