Perfect Progressive Tenses

by Craig Shrives

What Are the Perfect Progressive Tenses? (with Examples)

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.

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
The tables below show all 12 tenses so you can see the perfect progressive tenses among the other tenses. (You can change the verb by clicking one of the green buttons.)

Top 10 Regular Verbs

Top 10 Irregular Verbs

All 4 Past Tenses

PersonSimple PastPast Progressive TensePast Perfect TensePast Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
  • past tense
The simple past tense is for a completed activity that happened in the past.
  • was present participle
  • were present participle
  • was present participle
  • were present participle
  • were present participle
  • were present participle
The past progressive tense is for an ongoing activity in the past. Often, it is used to set the scene for another action.
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
  • had past participle
The past perfect tense is for emphasizing that an action was completed before another took place.
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
  • had been present participle
The past perfect progressive tense is for showing that an ongoing action in the past has ended.

All 4 Present Tenses

PersonSimple PresentPresent Progressive TensePresent Perfect TensePresent Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • base form
  • base form
  • 3rd pers sing present
  • base form
  • base form
  • base form
The simple present tense is mostly for a fact or a habit.
  • am present participle
  • are present participle
  • is present participle
  • are present participle
  • are present participle
  • are present participle
The present progressive tense is for an ongoing action in the present.
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
  • has past participle
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
  • have past participle
The present perfect tense is for an action that began in the past. (Often, the action continues into the present.)
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • has been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
  • have been present participle
The present perfect progressive tense is for a continuous activity that began in the past and continues into the present (or finished very recently).

All 4 Future Tenses

PersonSimple FutureFuture Progressive TenseFuture Perfect TenseFuture Perfect Progressive Tense
  • I
  • you
  • he/she/it
  • we
  • you
  • they
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
  • will base form
The simple future tense is for an action that will occur in the future.
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
  • will be present participle
The future progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will occur in the future.
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
  • will have past participle
The future perfect tense is for an action that will have been completed at some point in the future.
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
  • will have been present participle
The future perfect progressive tense is for an ongoing action that will be completed at some specified time in the future.

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. 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)

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See Also

See all the tenses What is a verb phrase?

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