Should I use '' I had been listening to this concert since it started snowing, at seven.'' or ''I have been listening to this concert since it started snowing, at seven.'' I never know when to use present perfect or past perfect.

marked as duplicate by tchrist, Chenmunka, Ronan, choster, anongoodnurse Sep 6 '14 at 8:19

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 7
    You don't use the past perfect construction if you're still listening - I have been listening since seven. If you stop listening, you can use the simple past - I listened from seven until eight. If an event occurred in the past that requires you to refer to listening as before the event, then you use the past perfect - I had been listening since seven when the roof collapsed under the snow at eight. – John Lawler Aug 25 '14 at 14:54
  • Is it over or not? If you're finished listening, then use 'had been'. If you're still listening, then use 'I have been'. – Ronan Aug 25 '14 at 14:54
  • Thank you very much, I think i understand now and I won't have this problem anymore. Have a nice day! – owlyowl Aug 25 '14 at 15:23
  • @JohnLawler> I think it would be better if you could post your helpful comment as an answer. – mok Aug 25 '14 at 15:35
  • 2
    @mok: Already done it, over twenty times. Nobody read them, either. Why bother to do it again? As I've also said many times before, the Stack Exchange model is a bad fit with English Language and Usage, since the search function rarely finds useful answers because nobody uses the same terminology. – John Lawler Aug 25 '14 at 15:40

This is really easy to identify. If the action is still happening, please use present perfect continuous tense and if there are two past actions and one action was happening for a period of time before the other past action, then you can use past perfect continuous tense for the first past action. Consider the following examples:

Present Perfect Continuous tense: 01) I have been learning English for 13 years. (This means that still you are learning English.)

02) When our new English teacher came to our school, we had already been learning English for 3 years. (There are two past actions in this sentence and the first past action was happening over a period of time.)

For you to use perfect continuous tense, the action should have been or should be happening for a period of time.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.