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hello,

could you please explain when i use the past perfect, when i use the past perfect continuous and the simple past? I never know when i have to use each case.
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You use the Simple Past for an action or event which took place and was finished in the past, signal words are e.g.: yesterday, last year, ... ago:
Yesterday, I went to school. Last year, he visited his uncle. He died in Spain two years ago.

The Past Perfect Progressive is used to express an action that had been in progress (in the past) when another event in the past took place, so it expresses the background action:
While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back home.
While I had been doing my homework, it started to rain.

The Past Perfect expresses an action or event that took place and had been finished in the past, already before another action took place. The more recent action is expressed in the Simple Past:
After I had been to school, I visited my friend.
Before I went to my friend, I had been to school.
PemmicanYou use the Simple Past for an action or event which took place and was finished in the past, signal words are e.g.: yesterday, last year, ... ago:
Yesterday, I went to school. Last year, he visited his uncle. He died in Spain two years ago.

The Past Perfect Progressive is used to express an action that had been in progress (in the past) when another event in the past took place, so it expresses the background action:
While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back home.
While I had been doing my homework, it started to rain.

The Past Perfect expresses an action or event that took place and had been finished in the past, already before another action took place. The more recent action is expressed in the Simple Past:
After I had been to school, I visited my friend.
Before I went to my friend, I had been to school.
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I am not a native speaker of English...but I dont think I agree with your use of the past perfect progressive!!!!!!!!

1. While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back.

past perfect progressive + simple past

What do you think of the following sentence:

a. While he was reading the book, his uncle came back home.
past contiuous + simple past



I think the timeline for both sentences is the same:

________XXXXXXXXXXXXX++++XXXXXXXXXXXX ______now___

XXXX = reading a book

++++ = came back

now = moment of speech utterance

I might be wrong after all since none of the members replied to this thread with my comment.
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Marius, I thought I knew the past perfect and all the tenses in Egnlish very werll!!! Not only did I learn them well, but I also thought I would waste my time reading about them again!!!

I guess I was wrong today!!

I read many threads Marius before I replied to this thread. Maybe I got more confused.

I would definitely continue reading about the past perfect.
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Magic791. While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back.

past perfect progressive + simple past

What do you think of the following sentence:

a. While he was reading the book, his uncle came back home.
past contiuous + simple past

Hello Magic

I'm inclined to agree that the first sentence does sound a little strange; the second ("While he was...") sounds more natural.

Here are some typical examples of the progressive past perfect:

1. Mr Blunkett said he had been preparing to sacrifice his political career in order to pursue his paternity claim to Mrs Quinn's son.

— here, the PPP is a reported version of "I was preparing".

2. The impossibility of her quitting her father, Mr. Knightley felt as strongly as herself; but the inadmissibility of any other change, he could not agree to. He had been thinking it over most deeply, most intently...

— here, the PPP denotes a continuous activity that is past from the point of view of a later past activity.

3. If he hadn't been sitting in the back seat, where the drugs were found, would he have been arrested?

— here, the PPP occurs in a "type III" conditional: it denotes an imaginary past.

MrP
Magic791. While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back.
This is a more typical situation with while in the past perfect (from the BBC):

---------
"I came across a copy of that and I thought 'hey, this has been done
for a bit of one city - we've got a language here which no-one else on
Earth uses, our own distinctive English, we need this done for us'. So
I did."

Temptation

He added that while he had been paraphrasing, he had wanted to stay
true to the version of history depicted in the original.


"We wanted to be careful not to change any facts, not to change the
sequence of events, anything like that - I was just changing the
language.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3004112.stm
-----------

As you see the 2nd verb is also in the past perfect (he had wanted).
The first verb (with while) creates the background for the wanting.
Thanks MrPedantic.

Thanks Marius.

So I guess we could use both without any difference in meaning:

1. While he was reading the book, his uncle came back.

and

2. While he had been reading the book, his uncle came back.

I could see myself reasoning that the use of the second example (past perfect) is justifed if we imagine the action READING happening before COMING.

1=2
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