Differences Between Past Continuous Tense and Past Perfect Continuous Tense


Past Continuous Tense is used to express interrupted actions in the past.  The tense shows that a longer action is interrupted by a shorter action in the past. We can express actions or situations that were in progress at a certain point of time in the past. 

( In such sentenses, The point emphasized is on the activity at the time of the interruption. That is, no information is given about the process before the interruption. It emphasizes what happened when the interruption occured.)


  • While we were chatting with Alice, the door was knocked. ( It emphasizes what happened when the door was knocked. Here, no information is given about the process before the door knocked.)
  • Just as she was getting into the house, she heard a loud voice.
  • When I arrived, Lisa was reading newspaper.
  • While they were walking on the street, they saw him.
  • She was writting the report when the boss left the office.


Past Perfect Continuous Tense is used to express a past action which started in the past and continued to happen after another action or time in the past. The point emphasized is on the activity in the time before the interruption. 

( In such sentences, Past Perfect Continuous Tense tell us “how long the action had continued” or ” the duration of the action”  is emphasized more in this tense. Namely, Past Perfect Continuous Tense shows that the action was not completed after that time ( the event continued to happen ) and it is emphasized the duration of the event. )


  • Tom had been sitting in the garden for 2 hours when his friends went to the cinema. ( He continued to sit for a while when his friends went to cinema. Here, an information is given about the process before his friends went to the cinema)
  • We had been looking for the wallet for 2 hours when Susan found it.
  • She had been writting reports since morning when the boss came the office.
  • They had been celebrating their wedding anniversary for hours when David arrived.
  • My wife had been cooking the meal since 4 o’clock when my father called us.


Shortly we can say;

The Past Continuous Tense only shows continuity, on the other hand, The Past Perfect Continuous Tense shows also continuity and duration of a past event or state ( or puts emphasized on the duration ).