I decided to walk back home. I had walked for about 200 meters when the storm began and I ran to the nearest cafe.

Would it be possible to use past perfect progressive since the walk was not completed?

A worksheet about this issue

3 Answers 3


First, what you have in your example is the past perfect (I had walked) not the present perfect (I have walked).

That said, yes, in this case, the past perfect progressive conveys basically the same meaning, and is arguably preferable.

I had been walking about 200 meters...

One small nuance is that in this particular case, the past perfect allows for the possibility that the speaker stopped walking after 200 meters, whereas the past perfect progressive sounds like they were walking at the moment the storm hit.

  • No, past perfect continuous implies that the action is finished. It's just the aspect of continuity that makes them different. Past simple continuous was walking is un unfinished action. Commented May 5, 2019 at 12:14
  • This is correct: I had been walking when the storm began. It tells you what the speaker was doing until the moment the storm began. There is no nuance. I had been reading other questions on this forum when I saw this one.** But I had walked is also OK.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:22
  • @Lambie - Those don't contain the specifier "200 meters", nor do they use the same verb, so their implication sounds different (to me, anyway).
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 22:09
  • @LucianSava - It doesn't exactly. Well, it implies that "walking 200 meters" is finished, but not "walking." For instance, "Yesterday I walked a kilometer. I had been walking (or had walked) 200 meters when the storm hit." The action clearly continued after the storm hit.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 22:14

I was taught that the past perfect simple is used for an amount = 200 meters and the progressive for any length of time = for 20 minutes, for example. So if he had been walking for 20 minutes when the storm began, the past perfect progressive would be correct.

  • length and time are not relevant here. How odd that someone would teach you that. What is relevant is that something had been occurring until something else occurred.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:24
  • I disagree, 200 meters is a finished distance, not a duration.
    – anouk
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:30
  • finished distance is irrelevant: I'd been running five miles for ten years. I had run five miles for ten years. It all depends on the emphasis you want.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:34
  • I had been walking for 30 minutes when the storm began.

The emphasis is on the activity of walking. One would expect to see something like: And that's why I was so tired.

  • I had walked for 30 minutes when the storm began.

The emphasis is on the 30 minutes of time prior to the storm. One would expect something like: And that's the actual time I spent walking as I did look at my watch.

Please note: in both cases, all this is in the past.

  • So in my example where is the emphasis, it is not very clear, it could be the continuity of the activity or on the 200 meters : so both solutions are ok
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:52
  • Either is OK, neither though is about completion. One emphasize the activity up to a past point in time; the other the time period prior to a specific point in time. Please forget about finished action here. These actions all occur prior to a point in the past. The point is priority in these sense of coming before...:)
    – Lambie
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 16:56
  • Would it be the same for this sentence the plane had flown 30 minutes before he crashed the emphasize is here on the 30 minutes
    – Yves Lefol
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 17:39
  • @user5577 Yes, you got it.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 5, 2019 at 18:42

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