I am really struggling to understand the differences between Past Perfect Continuous and Past Continuous AND Past Perfect and Past simple.

So are these correct?

I had been trying to find this book online but I bought it from the store.

Should it be like this and why if not?

I was trying to find this book online but I bought it from the store.

What about this one:

It had been snowing since I went to sleep and when I got up from bed everything outside was white.

I really wish I could understand that :( Please guys help me.

  • 1
    Michael please explain what you find confusing about this concept. Does your own native language has some kind of perfect tense? What is the difference between this and how you would say it in your language?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 31, 2018 at 20:51

1 Answer 1


In the context there is no real difference in meaning between the first and second example. There may be slight difference in emphasis, but either could be used and would be correct.

The last example is not very well written, it looks a little childish. When snow is falling we say "It is snowing". The perfect form would be "It has been snowing" (used when discussing a past action with effects in the present). In the final sentence, the speaker is describing a sequence of events in the past.

Snow started to fall -> I went to sleep while snow was still falling ->I woke up and got out of bed -> I saw that everything looked white.

(After a heavy snowfall, there will be a white layer of snow covering everything. See for example a news report heavy snow)

The use of the tense "It had been snowing" indicates that the start of snowfall had preceded the past action of going to sleep. However, this isn't a very well written sentence, and there are other ways of expressing the same idea.

When I went to sleep, it had already started to snow. I woke up the next morning and looked outside. Everything was white!

  • That was helpful. Thanks. Is it correct if i say: Everything was white outside because it had been snowing all night.
    – Michael
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 7:52
  • That's right. I guess if you are from a country where snow doesn't often fall, this might not be obvious. You might want to put information about your native country and language in your profile.
    – James K
    Commented Feb 1, 2018 at 16:35

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