Which one is correct?

  1. Her friends had thought of calling the police when she came in.

  2. Her friends had thought to call the police when she came in.

  3. Her friends had been thinking of calling the police when she came in.

I would understand why you use past perfect continuous in the last one if this sentence included a precise time like

"Her friends had been thinking of calling the police for 15min when she came in."

Can I use both tenses? I just don't understand how you can use past perfect continuous without a precise time.


When you use the 3rd sentence, I immediately think that there was an issue before she came in and her friends were thinking about that. They were thinking about calling the police about this issue.

My mom had been preparing for tonight's dinner 'for hours' when I came back from school. You can omit 'for hours' but I just put it there to give an unspecific amount of time. If you want to talk about 'process' use -ing tenses.

When you use 1st and 2nd sentence I think like this; She came in, and her friends wanted to call the police because of this like she did something bad. Of course you can think like this on the 3rd sentence too but for the first and second sentence 'she came in' is the trigger for calling the police.

In 1st and 2nd sentences, the actions follow each other. One after the other. 3rd sentence is talking about an action that happened before the other one.

1st and 2nd are going this direction: O ---->
3rd is going this direction <-----O

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