Had been or was


Senior Member
We've had an argue about which tense form is correct in the sentences like this one: He had been working on it all night / for all night

I'm pretty much sure that you should use only "have been" form when you talk about the certain period of time even if you say all day / all night. But my opponent told me that he'd use "to be + ing" form and said: "He was working on it all night".

Please clinch an argument.

P.S.: one question more, which one is incorrect: all night / all night long / for all night / for all night long
  • Kunio

    American English
    They are both correct but have different meanings:

    "He had been working on it all night." is a continuous tense. If you say that you imply that he is still working on it now.

    If you say "He was working on it all night." the sentence is purely past tense and states that he is done working.

    "for all night / for all night long" is incorrect


    Senior Member
    British English
    I'm afraid you have lost. The choice of tense depends on the context and intended meaning. Take your pick:
    He worked on it all night.
    He was working ...
    He has worked ...
    He had worked ...
    He has been working ...
    He had been working ...


    Senior Member
    I know when I should use have / have been / had but... Oh my God! It means I don't understand how to use "had been" form in comparison with "was + ing". Help! I've always thought I should use them this way:

    We met up for a side chat, and we were sharing problems and gossips about ex co-workers and so on, then we listened to the performance of one girl, she had been singing for about two hours... - Is it all incorrect as well or what is incorrect?
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