The pluperfect progressive tense
(or past perfect continuous
) is a perfective tense
in most Indo-European languages
which shows an event that started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. This grammatical tense may be contrasted with the present perfect continuous
tense, wherein the duration of the event does not continue up until the present time, but rather stops before another event in the past.
An example of this tense may be observed in the sentence, 'The boys had been discoursing for an hour before Edward arrived.' In this example, the event which began in the past would be the 'discourse between the boys', whereas the second event (which ceased at another time in the past) would be the arrival of Edward. The clause, 'the boys had been discoursing' is the pluperfect progressive tense.
The past perfect continuous tense is formed with had + been + present participle of a verb.
Past Continuous vs. Past Perfect Continuous
If one does not include, 'for five minutes', 'for two weeks' or 'since Friday', many anglophones
prefer to use the past continuous rather than the past perfect continuous. The past continuous emphasizes interrupted actions, whereas the past perfect continuous emphasizes the duration of time before something in the past. In order to elucidate this explanation, the following examples are supplied:
- * Jonathan was fatigued because he was working so diligently.
- (This sentence emphasizes that Jonathan was fatigued because he was working at that exact moment)
- * Jonathan was fatigued because he had been working so diligently.
- (This sentence emphasizes that he was fatigued because he had been working over a period of time. It is possible that Jonathan was still working at that moment or that he had just finished. )