Perfect Progressive Tense

The Perfect Progressive Tense Explained with Examples

The Perfect progressive tense combines both the perfect tenseOpens in new window and the progressive tenseOpens in new window to show action that has continuously been happening before another action happens, happened, or will happen.

Perfect progressive tenses are formed by combining auxiliary verb Opens in new windowhas, have, had, will have— with the word been and verb–ing form.

    For example:
  • I have been reading this novel for the past two hours.

The perfect progressive tense has three aspects which include the following:

1.   Present Perfect Progressive

The present perfect progressiveOpens in new window tense indicates that an action has been continuously happening up to the present moment.

This verb tense is used to indicate that something started in the past and has continued up until now. Typically, for five minutes, for two days, for two weeks, etc. and since morning, Monday, etc. are all durations which can be used with this verb tense.

What's this?
Examples include:
  • We have been planning our holiday adventures for the last two months.
  • Geoffrey has been reading his bible before the rooster crowed.
  • The pupils have been solving indices problem before their class teacher came into the class.

2.   Past Perfect Progressive

The past perfect progressiveOpens in new window tense indicates that an action has been happening continuously up to the time of another action in the past. This tense is related to the present perfect progressive; however, the duration does not continue until now because it stops before something else in the past.

Words like when, since, until, for are frequently used with this verb. To make a sentence with this verb, the structure:had + been + verb–ing is used.

See Practical Examples
  • I had been cooking dinner for one hour before Gretchen came home.
  • I had been sleeping when the rain started falling.
  • Gretchen had been painting the wall before the fire started.

3.   Future Perfect Progressive

The future perfect progressive tense indicates that an action will be in progress continuously up to the time of another action in the future.

Here again, words like before, when, for years, etc. are frequently paired with this verb tense. The structure: will have + been + verb–ing is used to make sentence with this tense.

See Practical Examples
  • I will have been cooking dinner for one hour before Gretchen will come home.
  • I will have been working on my project when the rain stopped.
  • Gretchen will have been playing for the Tigress for three years when turned 24.

Note that a verb in the perfect progressive tense = auxiliary verb + been + verb–ing form. See examples below:

Present Perfect Progressive
has/have + been + verb–ing
  • I/we/they have been eating
  • S/he, it has been eating
Past Perfect Progressive
had + been + verb–ing
  • I/(s)he/we/it/they had been eating
Future Perfect Progressive
will + have + been + verb–ing
  • I/(s)he/we/it/they will have been eating