Quick Fix: Perfect Continuous Verbs

There are few things that can ruin your writing more than the improper use of verb tense. While it might not sound like a big deal, mixing up your tenses will throw your readers off and shows that you don’t know what you’re doing.

So, to wrap up our look at verb tenses, we are going to learn about perfect continuous verbs.

If you’ve been keeping up with our blogs, you will recognize that we have already looked at perfect verbs and continuous verbs. Now we are going to combine them to create perfect continuous.

The perfect continuous tense describes an action that is happening, has happened or will happen, and has a definitive end to it. This is a very specific definition that creates a very specific circumstance.

Let’s look at some examples using the verbs read, eat, and draw.

Present Perfect Continuous

I have been reading. She has been reading. We have been reading.

I have been eating. She has been eating. We have been eating.

I have been drawing. She has been drawing. We have been drawing.

As you can see, the perfect continuous tense is made by combining have been with the verb’s present participle. This will be a running theme throughout the perfect continuous verb tense, but with adjustments for present, future and past. But your sentence needs more to be perfect continuous; it needs an end. Whether implied or explicit, an end is needed for this tense. For the present perfect continuous, that end time is, well, the present. Take a look at these examples.

I have been reading since I woke up.

She has been eating healthy since last New Year’s.

We have been drawing cartoons all our lives.

Future Perfect Continuous

I will have been reading. She will have been reading. We will have been reading.

I will have been eating. She will have been eating. We will have been eating.

I will have been drawing. She will have been drawing. We will have been drawing.

Future perfect continuous tells the reader that an event will happen in the future for a certain duration of time. Here are some other examples to make it a little more practical.

I will have been reading until my parents arrive.

She will have been eating until 6:00.

We will have been drawing for an hour by the time class is over.

Unlike the present perfect continuous, future tenses tell us when an action will end.

Past Perfect Continuous

I had been reading. She had been reading. We had been reading.

I had been eating. She had been eating. We had been eating.

I had been drawing. She had been drawing. We had been drawing.

Past perfect continuous verbs are actions that started at one point in time in the past and continue to another point. Like future perfect continuous, these verbs have a set duration. Here are some more practical examples.

I had been reading the book for a week before I finished it.

She had been eating since the party started, but didn’t stop until she left.

We had been drawing the blueprints from dawn until dusk.

Perfect continuous verbs are likely the most complicated verb tense you’ll have to understand, but you have to if you want to write properly and effectively. If you can’t communicate the exact message you want to your readers, then it’s worth taking a look at your verb tenses.

Come back tomorrow for a culmination of all our verb tenses, a one-stop-shop that will include a printable reference sheet and some exercises to improve your writing. See you then!