I know one of the main differences between past perfect progressive and past progressive is the fact that the latter can be used when the duration of an event or its exact timing is not important to us. In fact, to me, it's like a huge help, making the sentence construction more simple.

Now Consider these:

  1. The computer was working flawlessly for two hours before you inserted that disk.
  2. The computer had been working flawlessly for two hours before you inserted that disk.

My question:

  • If we can use an adverb of time as in #1?
  • Do they mean the same thing?
  • Side note: I couldn't find a tag for past perfect progressive/continous.
    – Cardinal
    Jul 6, 2017 at 20:10

1 Answer 1


The adverbial phrase can be used with both tenses.

In both cases, we understand the meaning to be that the computer was working up until the moment the disk was inserted. The meaning is conveyed in the past progressive by the adverbial phrases only, and it is an inference. The meaning in the past perfect progressive is conveyed by the tense in combination with the adverbial phrases, and it is explicit, not merely implicit, since the past perfect casts "before you inserted that disk" as a terminus ad quem. I'd probably say until not before with the past. perf. – Tᴚoɯɐuo

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