Past Perfect Continuous Usage 2: Action results

Past Perfect Continuous can also express an ongoing action that starts in the past, continues for some time, and stops some short time before a moment in the past. We also have results of this action by that moment in the past.

It had been raining. The ground was wet.

We don’t necessarily have to show the duration with for or since. The result is wet ground.

On the other hand, Present perfect continuous can show us that an action started in the past, continued for some time and stopped recently or just now. We have results of this action. Pay attention, it’s Present Perfect Continuous, not Past Perfect Continuous this time.

It has been raining. The ground is wet.

We also have results of an action here. The ground is wet.

Moment in the past and moment in the present

Past perfect continuous 2

I was tired. I had been running.

He stopped running short before a moment in the past. He looked tired, this is that moment.

Present perfect continuous 2

I am tired, I’ve been running.

He stopped running recently or just now, and he looks tired now.

Connection with the moment in the past or present: Past or Present Perfect Continuous

We have a connection between this recently stopped activity and the past (past perfect continuous) or present (present perfect continuous) situation. This connection is results of the action, which is “being tired.”

Look at this example again.

The boy looked tired. He had been running.

Let me analyze this sentence. He stopped running, and he got tired as a result of a recently stopped action. That action was ongoing for some time, and that action stopped short before a moment in the past. However, we could still see the ongoing results: he looked tired. The ongoing results sort of prolong the action, which makes the action sort of incomplete, or still continuing. In other words, the action is complete, however, the results of this action are still ongoing.

But where is that relative point in time before which he just stopped running? It’s contextually understood. It doesn’t have to be in that same sentence. However, the listener can infer the time from the speaker’s story. The moment he looked tired, this is also a contextual indicator of a moment in the past. We had a continuous action that stopped short before that contextual moment. And we have the results of this continuous action: he looked tired.

If you forgot about the same use of present perfect continuous, please visit Action stopped recently: Present Perfect Continuous.

Also on Past Perfect Continuous:

Back to: Past Perfect Continuous (Progressive) Tense

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