Can we use past perfect continuous instead of past perfect in this sentence?

He (had delivered) a prisoner to the county jail when he saw a car ahead of him weave across the yellow line .

• Could you please add some more detail to this question to explain why you want to use the past perfect continuous, or why you think it is correct? Also it would be the "county jail" not "country mail". "County" and "country" look very similar, I know, but there is a big difference between them. May 6, 2019 at 17:27
• I answered this same question here: ell.stackexchange.com/questions/209434/… May 6, 2019 at 17:34
• This is actually my exam question and l picked past perfect continuous but correct answer is past perfect . I didnt know why l thought it was better option so l wanna ask it . May 6, 2019 at 17:48

Past Perfect is the correct answer because when we use Past Perfect Continuous, it must have a duration.

We cannot use Past Perfect Continuous in the example sentence because here a prisoner is being delivered once, not continuously. We use the past perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. FOR EXAMPLE : "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the past perfect continuous.

Some Examples: (1)They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived. (2) She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business.

Here's a link for Past Perfect Continuous : https://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfectcontinuous.html

• Isnt delivering a duration ? I think it is May 6, 2019 at 20:11
• Could you please add more detail to this answer to explain the correct usage of the past perfect continuous? In particular, how you'd have to change the example sentence to use that verb tense? May 6, 2019 at 22:16
• @mustafa atmaca.......No, 'delivering' is not a duration. We use the past perfect continuous to show that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past. FOR EXAMPLE : "For five minutes" and "for two weeks" are both durations which can be used with the past perfect continuous. Some Examples: (1)They had been talking for over an hour before Tony arrived. (2) She had been working at that company for three years when it went out of business. May 7, 2019 at 4:55
• Thank you for help Prema May 7, 2019 at 15:10
• you can keep delivering packages for example, or letters. May 7, 2019 at 16:14

"He had delivered" means that the prisoner had arrived at the prison, the delivering of the prisoner had been completed, whereas "he had been delivering" would mean the he had been in the process of delivering for a period of time when he saw the car. For example:

He had been delivering packages for an hour when he saw a car…

The delivering started an hour before he saw the car. The past perfect focuses on the completion, whereas the past perfect continuous focuses on duration or process.

• Yes, this is true, but aside from the difference in meaning is there any grammatical reason why you couldn't use the past perfect continuous in this context? Could you also provide some examples of the correct usage? May 6, 2019 at 22:17
• @Andrew I have edited my answer. May 7, 2019 at 16:17
• To answer your deleted comment: I wasn't the one who downvoted your answer. If I had, I would have explained why. My comment was more to suggest an edit that would get me to upvote the answer, because it was mostly correct. It's more complete now. May 7, 2019 at 16:19
• To those who downvoted my answer, could you explain why? May 8, 2019 at 20:49