I had been walking / I was walking (past perfect continuous / past continuous)

Hi,
I was reading about the difference in meaning about the Past continuous and the past perfect continuous in order to be able to explain these sentences: "I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain." and "I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."

I found two possible differences and I'm not sure wich one is correct.
1.in the first sentence it started to rain after I walked and in the second sentence it started to rain while i was walking.
2.in the first sentence it started to rain long time after i started to walk and in the second it started to rain almost when I started to walk.

Thanks
:)
 
  • Wellow

    Senior Member
    English - British (England)
    Hi,
    I was reading about the difference in meaning about the Past continuous and the past perfect continuous in order to be able to explain these sentences: "I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain." and "I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."

    I found two possible differences and I'm not sure wich one is correct.
    1.in the first sentence it started to rain after I walked and in the second sentence it started to rain while i was walking. :tick:
    2.in the first sentence it started to rain long time after i started to walk and in the second it started to rain almost when I started to walk.:cross:

    Thanks
    :)
    Hola Regina61285

    Well, the first one is almost right. In fact I think they both mean almost
    the same thing. Without more context we cannot know.

    Perhaps we should try a translation into Spanish?
    Here is my attempt.

    1.I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain.

    1.Yo había estado caminando por el parque cuando de repente empezó a llover.


    2. I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain.

    2. Yo estaba caminando por el parque cuando de repente empezó a llover.



    ¿No hay mucha diferencia? En el primer caso ponemos más énfasis en lo que estaba ocurriendo antes de que empezara a llover.

    ¿Qué te parece?

    Saludos (y como siempre si he cometido errores me gustaría mucho que me informarais) :)
     

    kayokid

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Hello. In my personal opinion the two sentences mean the same thing. It started to rain as I was in the middle of walking in the park. The second sentence seems to be the more common way of expressing the thought.

    The thing that is important between tenses is the time frame. See if this helps:
    I was writing a letter to my brother when he called me (on the phone).
    I have been writing to my brother since he moved to Argentina.
    By that time, I had been writing to my brother for 3 years.
     
    hola regina61285

    well, the first one is almost right. In fact i think they both mean almost
    the same thing. Without more context we cannot know.

    Perhaps we should try a translation into spanish?
    Here is my attempt.

    1.i had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain.

    1.yo había estado caminando por el parque cuando de repente empezó a llover.


    2. I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain.

    2. Yo estaba caminando por el parque cuando de repente empezó a llover.



    ¿no hay mucha diferencia? En el primer caso ponemos más énfasis en lo que estaba ocurriendo antes de que empezara a llover.

    ¿qué te parece?

    Saludos (y como siempre si he cometido errores me gustaría mucho que me informarais) :)

    thanks :d
     
    hello. In my personal opinion the two sentences mean the same thing. It started to rain as i was in the middle of walking in the park. The second sentence seems to be the more common way of expressing the thought.

    The thing that is important between tenses is the time frame. See if this helps:
    I was writing a letter to my brother when he called me (on the phone).
    I have been writing to my brother since he moved to argentina.
    By that time, i had been writing to my brother for 3 years.
    thanks :)
     

    Mark Teacher

    Member
    American English
    I can clear this up. Past perfect is like present perfect in that the first event must have a special importance to the second event. "I had been walking in the park when it started to rain," is incorrect because it's a big "So what!" It should simply be "I was walking in the park when it started to rain." Compare to: "I had been walking in the park when I saw the accident." Now there is a special importance to where and what you were doing when the accident happened. Just remember, both present perfect and past perfect must pass the "So what?" test.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Interesting.
    But the tenses in question are the Present Progressive and the Present Perfect Progressive.
    Does the so-what rule apply to the above tenses too?
    Best.
    GS
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Hi,
    I was reading about the difference in meaning about the Past continuous and the past perfect continuous in order to be able to explain these sentences: "I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain." and "I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."
    I found two possible differences and I'm not sure wich one is correct.
    1.in the first sentence it started to rain after I walked and in the second sentence it started to rain while i was walking.
    2.in the first sentence it started to rain long time after i started to walk and in the second it started to rain almost when I started to walk.
    Thanks
    :)
    In the first sentence it started to rain after I walked and in the second sentence it started to rain while i was walking.

    The perfect past continuous is a situation or activity that HAPPENED over a period up to a particular past time or shortly before it. Whilst the past continuous the rain started in the middle of the action.
     

    JennyTW

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Interesting.
    But the tenses in question are the Present Progressive and the Present Perfect Progressive.
    Does the so-what rule apply to the above tenses too?
    Best.
    GS
    Actually, the tenses in question are the past perfect continuous (or progressive) - had been walking - and the past continuous (or progressive) - was walking.

    The past perfect (simple or continuous) is used for an action that occurred PRIOR to another action in the past. So the difference between the two sentences is that in the first one you stopped walking when it started to rain, whereas in the second one we don't know if you stopped or carried on.
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Actually, the tenses in question are the past perfect continuous (or progressive) - had been walking - and the past continuous (or progressive) - was walking.

    The past perfect (simple or continuous) is used for an action that occurred PRIOR to another action in the past. So the difference between the two sentences is that in the first one you stopped walking when it started to rain, whereas in the second one we don't know if you stopped or carried on.
    Jenny I wonder about this opinion I found in this Grammar book, UK.

    Marting Hewings in his well known ''Advanced grammar in use", unit 10 letter D. Quoting :

    "Compare the use of the past perfect continuous and past continuous :
    when we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding. (=we met AFTER they had finished)
    when we met Simon and Pat, they were riding.(=we met while they were riding)
     
    Last edited:

    JennyTW

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Yes, that's the same as I said above. The "had been riding" was prior to the "met", and the "was riding" presumably continued after the "met" but we don't actually know.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Well, in my opinion what was prior to the meeting was the riding.
    The speaker is referring - in his here and now - to a moment in the past when he would've been in a position to say truthfully that he had been riding (previously and for a certain time); the real words he might have pronounced, though, would have been " I've been riding".
    Consequently, the "had been riding" is not prior to the meeting - it's just the predicate of a sentence which is pronounced at the moment of speaking.
    What do you think, Jenny?
    GS :)
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Well, in my opinion what was prior to the meeting was the riding.
    The speaker is referring - in his here and now - to a moment in the past when he would've been in a position to say truthfully that he had been riding (previously and for a certain time); the real words he might have pronounced, though, would have been " I've been riding".
    Consequently, the "had been riding" is not prior to the meeting - it's just the predicate of a sentence which is pronounced at the moment of speaking.
    What do you think, Jenny?
    GS :)
    Giorgio, let me chime in, in Spanish the perfect past continuous in timing is prior to a simple past as met.
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Yes, that's the same as I said above. The "had been riding" was prior to the "met", and the "was riding" presumably continued after the "met" but we don't actually know.
    Thanks, Jenny, for me the 'while' is indicating an action into the past happening while still riding ( Riding is the background going on action).
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Hi,
    I was reading about the difference in meaning about the Past continuous and the past perfect continuous in order to be able to explain these sentences: "I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain." and "I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."

    I found two possible differences and I'm not sure wich one is correct.
    1.in the first sentence it started to rain after I walked and in the second sentence it started to rain while i was walking.
    2.in the first sentence it started to rain long time after i started to walk and in the second it started to rain almost when I started to walk.

    Thanks
    :)
    Here is the time difference as I see it:

    A. "I had been walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."
    = "I was walking in the park before it suddenly started to rain."

    B. "I was walking through the park when it suddenly started to rain."
    = "I was walking in the park (approximately) at the moment it suddenly started to rain."

    Sentence A refers to an earlier time, but the continuous tense says my walking was ongoing at that earlier time. The use of the perfect does not mean the walking was over at the time it started to rain. Nor does sentence A mean the walking continued up to the time it started to rain.

    Sentence B refers to one time in which I was walking and it started to rain. Unlike sentence A, it does say the walking continued (approximately) up until the time it started to rain.
    Jenny I wonder about this opinion I found in this Grammar book, UK.

    Marting Hewings in his well known ''Advanced grammar in use", unit 10 letter D. Quoting :

    "Compare the use of the past perfect continuous and past continuous :
    when we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding. (=we met AFTER they had finished)
    when we met Simon and Pat, they were riding.(=we met while they were riding)
    The same thing applies to this pair of sentences:

    C. "When we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding."
    = "Before we met Simon and Pat, they were riding."

    D. "When we met Simon and Pat, they were riding."
    = "(Approximately) at the moment we met Simon and Pat, they were riding."

    Sentence C does not mean "We met after they had finished." It only says that at a time earlier than when we met Simon and Pat, they were riding. A continuous tense does not imply an end. Even "they had been finishing" does not imply an end to the finishing, though it does suggest an end to whatever was being finished.
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Forero interesting your explanation. It is a pitty I don't know how to draw the 'TIME LINE' to see from Betty Azar, how the past perfect progressive is put in that line for time duration and activity, being a past perfect the duration of its action starts in a point in the past and continues on to a point before another activity or time in the simple past. The ACTIVITY started on a point of the time line and was in progress recent/before to another time or activity in the past. At those time lines the duration start and finished with th simple past : The police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him.

    For activity the action going on started at a point and was in progress recent to another time or nactivity in the past

    Her eyes were red because she had been crying When I saw her she wasn't crying anymore, this happened after she stopped crying sometime before I saw her eyes.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, Juan.
    Spanish and Italian are similar in this connection and I think I understand what you mean.
    What I'd like to point out, though, is a question of method and labelling: the Past Perfect Continuous is not prior to anything simply because it's the name of a verb tense. And this tense - I said TENSE, mind you - is pronounced at the moment of speaking. The event, process, activity, action, etc. to which this tense refers in TIME is another thing.
    I believe one thing is the events to which we refer by means of the tenses a certain language offers us, another thing is the tenses themselves. And the two planes should be kept separate.

    GS :)
     

    loudspeaker

    Senior Member
    British English
    The ACTIVITY started on a point of the time line and was in progress recent/before to another time or activity in the past. At those time lines the duration start and finished with th simple past : The police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him.
    I'm sorry but I don't agree with you.

    The past perfect continuous is sometimes used for past actions that were unfinished when another action happened.

    I had been studying at university for 6 months before I met her. (llevaba 6 años estudiando en la universidad... Not había estado 6 años estudiando...).

    Studying at university = past unfinished action.

    I had been living there for years before I got married. (llevaba viviendo allí años... NOT había vivido allí años...).
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    I'm sorry but I don't agree with you.

    The past perfect continuous is sometimes used for past actions that were unfinished when another action happened.

    I had been studying at university for 6 months before I met her. (llevaba 6 años estudiando en la universidad... Not había estado 6 años estudiando...).

    Studying at university = past unfinished action.

    I had been living there for years before I got married. (llevaba viviendo allí años... NOT había vivido allí años...).
    I'm afraid not. to clarify it is not my personal opinion but Betty AZAR's in verb tenses, time line page 39. 1-18 Past perfect progressive, the graphic is clear for DURATION it is an action that started in the past , was in action for certain amount of time and ended with the simple past. Why? because the past perfect progressive cannot go beyond the simple past, otherwise would be illogical that a past perfect verb went beyond a simple past one (forward). About activity, the situation is that the perfect past progressive its activity must have a start into the past and is in progress recent to another time or activity in the past, here also the linear time is germane to convey this visual and logical timing.

    In Spanish I am afraid yes as well as in English : llevaba 6 años estudiando, is a past progressive = Imperfect past +-ing and había estado estudiando is a pluperfect ( pluscuamperfecto de indicativo, antecopretérito ) timing are different.

    It is a pitty, indeed I don't know how to copy these graphics from my books where we can see clearly the timing and activity of this pluperfect indicative.in its activity stops round a moment before the simple past. It cannot go beyond the simple past in the time line ( forward).
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    The past perfect continuous/progressive simply identifies an action that began before another past action; in a timeline, it would be: past perfect progressive--->simple past--->moment of speaking. Whether or not the past progressive ended before the simple past is a different matter, which depends entirely on the meaning of the verbs involved. In the police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him, logic tells us that once the police "caught" the criminal, they were no longer looking for him. Here, yes, the past progressive ended once the simple past was realized. But in I had been studying at University for 6 months before I met her, it's perfectly natural to expect that I continued studying after I met her. Here, the past perfect progressive doesn't just "end" once the simple past comes into the picture; the past perfect progressive still does its basic job: the show the time of the main past verb ("study") as ongoing from the perspective of the time of speaking.
    Cheers
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    In English, past perfect progressive refers to something in progress before something else. It is above all progressive and does not indicate an end to anything.
    Forero interesting your explanation. It is a pitty I don't know how to draw the 'TIME LINE' to see from Betty Azar, how the past perfect progressive is put in that line for time duration and activity, being a past perfect the duration of its action starts in a point in the past and continues on to a point before another activity or time in the simple past. The ACTIVITY started on a point of the time line and was in progress recent/before to another time or activity in the past. At those time lines the duration start and finished with th simple past : The police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him.

    For activity the action going on started at a point and was in progress recent to another time or nactivity in the past

    Her eyes were red because she had been crying When I saw her she wasn't crying anymore, this happened after she stopped crying sometime before I saw her eyes.
    "Her eyes were red because she had been crying" says that her previous state of crying explains her eyes being red, but it does not say whether she stopped crying or continued to cry.

    This sentence is just a past tense version of the following:

    Her eyes are red because she has been crying.

    We do not know from this statement whether or not she is still crying.

    This is the first time I have seen people insist that "she has been crying" means she has stopped crying. Many a time in the English Only forum, I have seen natives insist that, whereas "she has cried" means she has stopped crying, "she has been crying" means that she has continued to cry.

    I believe neither form actually says anything about her present state. She may be no longer crying, she may still be crying, or she may have stopped crying and later started again.
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    In English, past perfect progressive refers to something in progress before something else. It is above all progressive and does not indicate an end to anything."Her eyes were red because she had been crying" says that her previous state of crying explains her eyes being red, but it does not say whether she stopped crying or continued to cry.

    This sentence is just a past tense version of the following:

    Her eyes are red because she has been crying.

    We do not know from this statement whether or not she is still crying.

    This is the first time I have seen people insist that "she has been crying" means she has stopped crying. Many a time in the English Only forum, I have seen natives insist that, whereas "she has cried" means she has stopped crying, "she has been crying" means that she has continued to cry.

    I believe neither form actually says anything about her present state. She may be no longer crying, she may still be crying, or she may have stopped crying and later started again.
    Forero, sorry but I do not insist upon an issue that has been stated from well-known authors : Azar and Martin Hewings in UK, in Spanish the timing is as these authors
    are stating in English. En español si yo digo Le vi.los ojos rojos a María, mi amiga, podía deducir que ella había estado llorando pero en el momemnto que la ví no estaba llorando así la acción terminó un poco antes o un rato antes pero no está llorando cuando la ví. La línea del tiempo de Azar es muy clara y así yo la interpreto en español. Para mí es muy extraño que dos reconocidos autores en Inglés digan lo mismo y que yo en español lo entiendo como lo dije más arriba.

    Lo que yo no interpreto es el porqué en español sí sucede como lo afirman en inglés estos autores, entonces ellos están equivocados en Inglés? o yo estoy equivocado en español? también. Le agradecería me aclarara esto en español y así poder entenderlo en inglés, vale?
    De todas maneras muchas gracias por su tiempo y amabilidfad pero no es terquedad sino deseo de aprender en inglés algo que para mí es claro en español.

    Forero el tiempo no es "she has been crying ( present progressive) sino she had ben crying (past perfect progressive)
     
    Last edited:

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    The past perfect continuous/progressive simply identifies an action that began before another past action; in a timeline, it would be: past perfect progressive--->simple past--->moment of speaking. Whether or not the past progressive ended before the simple past is a different matter, which depends entirely on the meaning of the verbs involved. In the police had been looking for the criminal for two years before they caught him, logic tells us that once the police "caught" the criminal, they were no longer looking for him. Here, yes, the past progressive ended once the simple past was realized. But in I had been studying at University for 6 months before I met her, it's perfectly natural to expect that I continued studying after I met her. Here, the past perfect progressive doesn't just "end" once the simple past comes into the picture; the past perfect progressive still does its basic job: the show the time of the main past verb ("study") as ongoing from the perspective of the time of speaking.
    Cheers
    Sevendays : the time frame is past perfect progressive for that future possibility you should use the present perfect progressive or the past progressive if you use the simple past (met). By the way sevendays, do you have Betty Azar books or Martin hewings ?.
    The past perfect progressive and past proghressive stay in the past. That's why I would like to know if someone has either one or both books mentionesd to clarify this issue. Thanks
    Past Perfect Continuous
    FORM

    [had been + present participle]
    Examples:

    • You had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.
    • Had you been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived?
    • You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.

    Complete List of Past Perfect Continuous Forms
    USE 1 Duration Before Something in the Past

    [IMG]http://www.englishpage.com/images/verbs/pastperfectcontinuous.gif[/IMG]
    We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past. Anyone knows how to paste an image here ? I would appreciate it.

    http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfectcontinuous.html. This is a good place to see the graphics if someone knows how to paste the images here I would appreciate that. Thanks.
     
    Last edited:

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Sevendays : the time frame is past perfect progressive for that future possibility you should use the present perfect progressive or the past progressive if you use the simple past (met). By the way sevendays, do you have Betty Azar books or Martin hewings ?.
    The past perfect progressive and past proghressive stay in the past. That's why I would like to know if someone has either one or both books mentionesd to clarify this issue. Thanks
    Past Perfect Continuous
    FORM

    [had been + present participle]
    Examples:

    • You had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.
    • Had you been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived?
    • You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.

    Complete List of Past Perfect Continuous Forms
    USE 1 Duration Before Something in the Past

    [IMG]http://www.englishpage.com/images/verbs/pastperfectcontinuous.gif[/IMG]
    We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past. Anyone knows how to paste an image here ? I would appreciate it.

    http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfectcontinuous.html. This is a good place to see the graphics if someone knows how to paste the images here I would appreciate that. Thanks.
    The commentary and diagrams on that webpage are wrong. The author has failed to distinguish between the meaning surmised from context and the literal meaning of the verb form. Both of these are logical scenarios:

    E. When I reached the dock, I had been walking for hours, so I was tired. I decided to take a break.
    F. When I reached the dock, I had been walking for hours, so I was tired. But I kept walking.

    The first sentence in both of these little paragraphs is the same, and it does not say whether I stopped walking or continued walking.

    The second sentence of E suggests but does not quite say that I stopped walking. The second sentence of F clearly says I continued walking.
     

    SevenDays

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Sevendays : the time frame is past perfect progressive for that future possibility you should use the present perfect progressive or the past progressive if you use the simple past (met). By the way sevendays, do you have Betty Azar books or Martin hewings ?.
    The past perfect progressive and past proghressive stay in the past. That's why I would like to know if someone has either one or both books mentionesd to clarify this issue. Thanks
    Past Perfect Continuous
    FORM

    [had been + present participle]
    Examples:

    • You had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.
    • Had you been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived?
    • You had not been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived.

    Complete List of Past Perfect Continuous Forms
    USE 1 Duration Before Something in the Past

    [IMG]http://www.englishpage.com/images/verbs/pastperfectcontinuous.gif[/IMG]
    We use the Past Perfect Continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the Past Perfect Continuous. Notice that this is related to the Present Perfect Continuous; however, the duration does not continue until now, it stops before something else in the past. Anyone knows how to paste an image here ? I would appreciate it.

    http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfectcontinuous.html. This is a good place to see the graphics if someone knows how to paste the images here I would appreciate that. Thanks.
    No, I don't have those books, but I think this definition is what's causing confusion: (the past perfect continuous) stops before something else in the past. Certainly, in all these examples, that's precisely what happens: in you had been waiting there for more than two hours when she finally arrived, "the had been waiting" stopped when "arrived" happened. But suppose we have this scenario: you studied at University for 10 years, and at year 6, you met "her." If we align the tenses properly, the simple past is the past of the present (or the moment of speaking), and the past perfect continuous is the past of the simple past: I had been studying at University for six years before I met her, where "had been studying" happened first, then "met her." Now, the question is, based on the definition provided in your link, what exactly "stopped" before "something else in the past"? Well, what "stopped" is years 1-6, then you "met her," and years 6-10 "began." The definition "stops before something else in the past" is a bit obscure, ambiguous and not really helpful; it's not always easy to see it, as shown by our "University" example. I think it's best to say that the past perfect progressive refers to an action that was in progress before another action in the past; whether or not the action that was in progress also stopped before another action in the past will depend on context.
    Cheers
     

    loudspeaker

    Senior Member
    British English
    In Spanish I am afraid yes as well as in English : llevaba 6 años estudiando, is a past progressive = Imperfect past +-ing and había estado estudiando is a pluperfect ( pluscuamperfecto de indicativo, antecopretérito ) timing are different.
    Le aconsejaría que para entender el 'past perfect continuous' en inglés en este caso en concreto, se olvide de tratar de compararlo con el español porque no tienen nada que ver.

    'I had been studying at university for 6 months before I met her' rige 'past perfect continuous ' en inglés pero no en español.

    Si usted tradujese esa oración 'había estado estudiando 6 años en la universidad...' estaría incurriendo en un error, y se perdería el matiz que tiene en inglés. De ahí que la traducción correcta es 'llevaba estudiando 6 años en la universidad...'
    Es como si 'I have been living in Madrid for 3 years' (acción que continúa ) lo traduce 'He estado viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción finalizada) , en vez de 'Llevo viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción que continúa).
     

    madafe

    Senior Member
    Castellano, Argentina
    Le aconsejaría que para entender el 'past perfect continuous' en inglés en este caso en concreto, se olvide de tratar de compararlo con el español porque no tienen nada que ver.

    'I had been studying at university for 6 months before I met her' rige 'past perfect continuous ' en inglés pero no en español.

    Si usted tradujese esa oración 'había estado estudiando 6 años en la universidad...' estaría incurriendo en un error, y se perdería el matiz que tiene en inglés. De ahí que la traducción correcta es 'llevaba estudiando 6 años en la universidad...'
    Es como si 'I have been living in Madrid for 3 years' (acción que continúa ) lo traduce 'He estado viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción finalizada) , en vez de 'Llevo viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción que continúa).
    Estoy muy de acuerdo con esta explicación.

    "Había estado estudiando 6 años" no aclara específicamente que la acción estaba teniendo lugar hasta antes de conocerla. Es ambigua para mí.

    Hago la salvedad de aclarar que este ejemplo en particular no me gusta para justificar tu respuesta:

    "He estado viviendo en Madrid 3 años".

    Para mí no está claro que la acción haya finalizado.

    Pero sí estoy de acuerdo en que "llevaba estudiando..." elimina esa ambigüedad.
     

    abb1025

    Senior Member
    USA
    English USA
    Exactly.


    When you combine a past perfect continuous clause with a simple past clause, it only means that a continuing action in the past began before some other more recent action in the past. The earlier action may stop when the second action occurs, or it may continue on.


    Try this example, Juan.


    Jim had been looking for a job for three years when he married Jane in 2003.
    In 2011, when they divorced, he had been looking for a job for a total of eleven years.
    It is now 2013, and he has been looking for a job for thirteen years.
    I suspect that by the time he turns 65 years old, he will have been looking for a job all his life.


    In the above example, you have one continuous action that started in the past, intersected with two (simple past) completed actions, kept on going until it reached today (present perfect continuous), and is still going on into the future (future perfect continuous). The action does not stop when it intersects with other more recent events, all the way up to the present and into the future.
     

    srb62

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hi,
    An interesting thread but quite confusing.
    I'm not sure if I've picked up everything, but here's what I think for what it's worth.
    Without a context/further information it's not possible to say anything definite about what the "had been ....+ing" form means. It might have stopped before the subsequent action or not - but it's the context and not the tense per se that will tell us. I think some people (forerl/seven days?) have said something similar.
    Another point (and I'm not sure if someone has already mentioned this) is that the meaning might also depend simply on how the speaker feels about the events and how much the listener knows (I guess these could also be considered as part of the 'context').
     

    Otacon

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    I can clear this up. Past perfect is like present perfect in that the first event must have a special importance to the second event. "I had been walking in the park when it started to rain," is incorrect because it's a big "So what!" It should simply be "I was walking in the park when it started to rain." Compare to: "I had been walking in the park when I saw the accident." Now there is a special importance to where and what you were doing when the accident happened. Just remember, both present perfect and past perfect must pass the "So what?" test.
    Can we say "I was walking in the park when I saw the accident"?
     

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    Le aconsejaría que para entender el 'past perfect continuous' en inglés en este caso en concreto, se olvide de tratar de compararlo con el español porque no tienen nada que ver.
    'I had been studying at university for 6 months before I met her' rige 'past perfect continuous ' en inglés pero no en español.
    Si usted tradujese esa oración 'había estado estudiando 6 años en la universidad...' estaría incurriendo en un error, y se perdería el matiz que tiene en inglés. De ahí que la traducción correcta es 'llevaba estudiando 6 años en la universidad...'
    Es como si 'I have been living in Madrid for 3 years' (acción que continúa ) lo traduce 'He estado viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción finalizada) , en vez de 'Llevo viviendo en Madrid 3 años' (acción que continúa).
    Let's forget about Spanish verbs for some time now. I am going to quote Martin Hewings a very well known British grammarian and explain me ( non-native English learner) , if you will that you agree or not with his ( Martin Hewngs) explanation.

    Quoting Advanced Grammar in Use, unit 10, letter D.
    " when we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding. (= we met after they had finished)"
    When we met Simon and Pat, they were riding (= we met while they were riding).

    When I got home, water had been leaking through the roof.(=it was no longer leaking when I got there)
    When I got home, water was linking through the roof. (= it was leanking when I got there)"
    "

    I would appreciate your taking with the above sentences and if you agree with them or not. Thanks, loudspeaker.
     
    Last edited:

    srb62

    Senior Member
    British English
    Let's forget about Spanish verbs for some time now. I am going to quote Martin Hewings a very well known British grammarian and explain me ( non-native English learner) , if you will that you agree or not with his ( Martin Hewngs) explanation.
    Hi, for me it's a little more complicated than this, though I would say that for the purposes of learning to speak English, the advice in the grammar book you mention is fine.
    Quoting Advanced Grammar in Use, unit 10, letter D.
    " when we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding. (= we met after they had finished)" If I'm being honest, on it's own 'they had been riding' does not tell us for sure if they had stopped riding or not - but probably they had finished (unless there is a 'time phrase' such as 'for half an hour' which then might mean they were still riding!).
    When we met Simon and Pat, they were riding (= we met while they were riding). Definitely the case!

    The next examples, for me, show how it can be more complicated!

    When I got home, water had been leaking through the roof.(=it was no longer leaking when I got there)For me either is possible, - I would use the simple past perfect (pluperfect?) here - "Water had leaked through the roof" if I wanted to make it clear that it had stopped leaking.
    When I got home, water was linking through the roof. (= it was leanking when I got there)"Yes

    On the whole, though, I think what the book suggests seems fine - it's just that sometimes the past perfect continuous seems to bridge both the past imperfect and the past perfect.
    "
    I would appreciate your taking with the above sentences and if you agree with them or not. Thanks, loudspeaker.
     

    Giorgio Spizzi

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Hullo, all.

    In my opinion the speaker who decides to express* what happened in the extralinguistic world by means of the sentence "Water had been leaking through the roof"
    is telling the listener that, on his arrival, he noticed the traces (say, the drops of rain on the floor and furniture) of a process which had been going on for an unspecified amount of time prior to his arrival.
    That said, I'll add that the other option ("Water had leaked through the roof") though referring to the same event in the world, does not express exactly the same attitude on the part of the speaker as the sentence I examined above.

    * This is a delicate point: the choice of this or that grammatical tense obviously cannot but take into consideration the options offered by the system, but in the last analysis it's the speaker who decides which tense better/best expresses his/her point of view. In other words, there are degrees of freedom — even though the events/actions/processes in the real world are always the same — at the speaker's disposal.
    What we should constantly try to avoid is the notion that language is a faithful representation of the world: language is not the world; a verb tense is not a fact. What is reasonable, in my opinion, is the notion that each speaker, after deciding to tell something, will inevitably filter reality through the data of his experience, his convictions, his fears, his angers, etc. And that will be done, metalinguistically, through, eg, the tenses of his language.

    GS :)


     
    Last edited:

    juan2937

    Banned
    Spanish
    The next examples, for me, show how it can be more complicated!

    When I got home, water had been leaking through the roof.(=it was no longer leaking when I got there)For me either is possible, - I would use the simple past perfect (pluperfect?) here - "Water had leaked through the roof" if I wanted to make it clear that it had stopped leaking.
    When I got home, water was linking through the roof. (= it was leanking when I got there)"Yes

    Sbr 62, thanks for your reply. The pluperfect ( pluscuamperfecto or antecopretérito= Spanish) indicative mode. We have in Spanish two past tenses Simple past comí = ate y Imperfect past ( copretérito) comía. was eating with its respective compound tenses Hube comido (past perfect) and había comido ( pluperfect). Timing any action,as general rule, could be in the past, present or future, in Spanish the compound tenses occur BEFORE the simple tenses NEVER after a simple one :

    Yo había comido (pluperfect) cuando tú llegaste ( simple past)
    I had eaten ( past perfect= English) when you arrived. We don`t use Hube coimdo cuando tu llegaste but había comido.

    The only tenses that are very similar to past progressive and past perfect progressive or continuous Estaba comiendo y había estado comiendo.

    El estaba comiendo cuando sonó el teléfono, we don't know when the action of eating started or when is going to finished, simply we focus in the action that was interrupted with another action into the past ( sonó)

    If I see leftovers on the table when I got home last night I could utter Alguien había estado comiendo aquí cuando llegué anoiche. ( if I see the leftovers the action of eating was over or finished when I got home last night, or Alguien estuvo comiendo aquí= past progressive with the simple past = estuve+present progressive.

    The difference is with había estado comiendo, though past tense, we focus in the activity going on in the past and it was finished when I got home.

    In English the past perfect you focus in the 'completion' of a situation or activity or its effects. With the past perfect continuous, the continuity or duration of a situation.

    She had been suffering from flu when she was interviewed ( I hope the talk guest has not the flu in that past moment when interviewed) It should be finished.
     

    Otacon

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    I saw this explanation in other website.


    I was eating dinner, when the doorbell rang

    The first action is a longer action which is interrupted by the second, shorter action.

    We usually use the past continuous to talk about an action that was in progress at a particular point in the past, for example:

    At 6 o clock this morning I was sleeping.

    So in your example, the action of eating dinner was in progress at the point when the doorbell rang.
    I had been eating dinner, when the doorbell rang

    This is in fact not a very natural sentence. It would be more natural to say

    "I had been eating dinner for an hour when the doorbell rang"

    because the past perfect continuous is used to focus more on the fact that the action has been going on for some time, for example:

    He was wet becasue he'd been walking outside in the rain all day.

    So it is all about context and emphasis in the time you were taking when another event happened. Am I wrong? That's the diference between these two, and as many of you said, past perfect continuous doesn't mean the action finished, it may keep going on or not, it all depends on the context.
     

    Scorny

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - American
    Sorry marksel, that is just not correct. The importance of the event is not what matters, it is simply an issue of the time of the action and the completion of it.

    I had been walking -------------> (could be for an hour or a few minutes) it rained -----|| end
    I was walking <--- it rained --->the end is not at issue, but it began in the past
     

    Scorny

    Senior Member
    USA
    English - American
    Loudspeaker,

    I think your point seems to be on target! We are arguing about the use of the past perfect progressive (or continuous) versus the past progressive. The real issue is that this is a Spanish grammar forum, and there is NO DIFFERENCE between how the tenses are used in English and how their Spanish equivalent tenses are used.

    Use them in the same manner. Unless someone can provide evidence for the difference between the English usage and the Spanish usage, this is really a discussion about English past perfect progressive and past progressive usage.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top