Teaching the Past Perfect Progressive
We are going to study the Past Perfect Progressive today.
This is a very “important event”: Past Perfect Progressive is the last Past tense we have to teach! This is going to be the end of the Cycle of the Past!
Past Perfect Progressive
Let’s observe the name and see how it indicates the structure.
It is a Perfect tense, so we need the helping verb HAVE. This Perfect tense refers to the Past, so we need the Past of the verb Have (HAD). It is a Progressive tense, so we need the helping verb BE and the ING form of the main verb.
The verb BE will come in the third form (v3) since after HAVE, we must use the third form of the verb.
had + been + ving
I saw that the students had been working very hard.
And when do we use this tense?
1. If we have two actions in the sentence and one happened before the other (in the Past), we will use the Past Perfect Progressive for the earlier action if it is a relatively long one (the duration is mentioned). The action that happened later will always come in the Past Simple.
I was tired because I had been working all morning.
2. If we have two actions in the sentence and one happened before the other, we will use the Past Perfect Progresasive for the earlier action if it lasted up until the later one started.
The streets were wet because it had been raining heavily.
I suggest we tell the students that when they have two actions in the Past and one happened before the other, they should first take care of the later action and put it in the Past Simple. Then they should examine the earlier action. If the duration is mentioned (for two hours, all morning, etc.) or if it continued up until the later action began, they should use the Past Perfect Progressive. Otherwise, they should use the Past Perfect.
1. The words just, yet, recently, lately, already usually appear in sentences requiring Present Perfect or Past Perfect.
The words for and since usually appear in sentences requiring Present Perfect Progressive or Past Perfect Progressive.
2. Stative Verbs do not usually come in Past Perfect Progressive (or in any other Progressive tense), but in Past Perfect instead.
Dan admitted he had known the truth for years.
3. We will usually use the Past Perfect rather than the Past Perfect Progressive in negative sentences.
Uri complained that he hadn’t worked for years.
For further explanations, please see:
דקדוק אנגלי לדוברי עברית, עמ, 67-72
For practice, please see
The New Language Guidebook and Workbook, p 54 – 62