What Are the Perfect Progressive Tenses? (with Examples)

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The Perfect Progressive Tenses

The perfect progressive tense is a category of verb tense used to mark the end of an ongoing action. It covers the past perfect progressive tense, the present prefect progressive tense, and the future perfect progressive tense.

Of note, the past perfect progressive tense and the future perfect progressive tense are used to mark the end of an ongoing action. However, present perfect progressive tense is used for actions that began in the past and continue into the present. 

Examples of Verbs in the Perfect Progressive Tense

Here are some examples of verbs in the perfect progressive tense:

The Past Perfect Progressive Tense.
  • I had been going.
  • He had been seeing.
The Present Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I have been going.
  • He has been seeing.
The Future Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I will have been going.
  • He will have been seeing.

Slider Showing Verbs in the Perfect Progressive Tenses

The following slider shows all 12 tenses. The perfect progressive tenses (i.e., those in the perfect progressive aspect) are highlighted with a yellow background.

Examples of Verbs in the Perfect Progressive Tenses

The perfect progressive tenses are recognizable by the word "have" (in one of its forms), "been," and a present participle (i.e., the word that ends "-ing"). Here are some examples of verbs in the perfect progressive tenses.

In the Past Tense
  • He had been writing.
  • (past perfect progressive tense)
  • They had been filming.
  • (past perfect progressive tense)
In the Present Tense
  • She has been dancing.
  • (present perfect progressive tense)
  • They have been running.
  • (present perfect progressive tense)
In the Future Tense
  • He will have been flying.
  • (future perfect progressive tense)
  • They will have been acting.
  • (future perfect progressive tense)

Forming the Perfect Progressive Tenses

The perfect progressive tenses are formed using a form of the auxiliary verb "to have," "been," and the present participle. For example:

Forming the Past Perfect Progressive Tense

"had"
+
"been"
+
[present participle]
  • They had been meeting.


Forming the Present Perfect Progressive Tense

"has" or "have"
+
"been"
+
[present participle]
  • He has been swimming.
  • They have been playing.


Forming the Future Perfect Progressive Tense

"will have"
+
"been"
+
[present participle]
  • They will have been plotting.

Verb Tenses Showing the Perfect Progressive Tenses

Here are the 12 tenses again. This time, the tenses are ordered under the headings past tense, present tense, and future tense. The perfect progressive tenses are shaded in yellow.
The 4 Past Tenses Example
simple past tense I went
past progressive tense I was going
past perfect tense I had gone
past perfect progressive tense I had been going
The 4 Present Tenses Example
simple present tense I go
present progressive tense I am going
present perfect tense I have gone
present perfect progressive tense I have been going
The 4 Future Tenses Example
simple future tense I will go
future progressive tense I will be going
future perfect tense I will have gone
future perfect progressive tense I will have been going

Verb Tense Widget

Use this widget to learn about the different tenses. How do you use this widget? Well, if there's a button, a drop-down menu, or a , then you can click it!

The Perfect Progressive Aspect

The term perfect progressive aspect is used to group all verbs (past, present, and future) in the perfect progressive tenses. (Remember that the aspect of a verb is determined by whether its action is ongoing or completed.)

Read more about aspect.

Why Should I Care about the Perfect Progressive Tenses?

If you're learning or teaching English, you must spend time learning the tenses because expressing when something occurs is a fundamental skill when communicating. Remember that tenses do not just state whether an action is a past, present, or future one. Tenses also state whether an action is habitual, completed, or ongoing. (These are called the aspects of the tenses.).

Here's a good tip to help you with mastering the tenses: Concentrate on the following:
  • The verb "to be" in all its forms (am, is, are, was, were, will be)
  • The verb "to have" in all its forms (has, have, had, will have)
  • Present participles, i.e., the "ing" form of verbs (e.g., dancing, knowing, eating)
  • Past participles (e.g., danced, known, eaten)
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

What is verb tense? What is aspect? What is the perfect progressive aspect? What is the past perfect progressive tense? What is the present perfect progressive tense? What is the future perfect progressive tense? Glossary of grammatical terms