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1)When the phone rang,I had been washing the dishes 2)when the phone rang,I was washing the dishes

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1) When the phone rang, I had been washing the dishes

You washed the dishes, then stopped, then the phone rang.

The PAST PERFECT PROGRESSIVE TENSE indicates a continuous action that was completed at some point in the past. This tense is formed with the modal "HAD" plus "BEEN," plus the present participle of the verb (with an -ing ending): "I had been working in the garden all morning."

Past Perfect Progressive tense

2) when the phone rang, I was washing the dishes

You washed the dishes, while you were doing that, the phone rang.

We often use the past continuous and the past simple tense together to describe an action interrupted by an event. When this happens, the past continuous describes a longer, ‘background’ action or situation and the past simple describes the action or events.

I was playing a computer game when the doorbell rang.

Past Continuous and Past Simple

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  • Don't you think had been+present participle is used for representing the ongoing actions in past – Akul sharma Aug 11 '18 at 9:46
  • @Akul sharma - "had been+present participle is used for representing the ongoing actions in past" Maybe you are thinking of 'have been' - the present perfect progressive tense which describes an action that began in the past, continues in the present, and may continue into the future. – Michael Harvey Aug 11 '18 at 10:49
  • Let's just take an example:Her friends had been thinking of calling the police when she walked in..what you will say now? – Akul sharma Aug 11 '18 at 11:07
  • I will say the same. Had been thinking says the action was complete when she walked in.. Were thinking says it was still happening when she walked in. – Michael Harvey Aug 11 '18 at 11:57

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