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We did not drink very much at all (one vodka each) but other young people had been drinking heavily all evening. Some of the dancers looked quite drunk.

I don't understand why it is past perfect continous for the second verb. In fact I understand the continuity(all the evening): but why past perfect for the second verb and not for the first one, both action happened roughly at the same time (all the evening) I see one reason it is because it is the cause of why the dancers looked drunk

some of the dancers looked drunk because they had been drinking all the evening

Would have been possible to use past perfect simple for the first one

We had not drunk very much at all (one vodka each) but other young people had been drinking heavily all evening. Some of the dancers looked quite drunk.

OR past simple and past simple continuous

We did not drink very much at all (one vodka each) but other young people were drinking heavily all evening. Some of the dancers looked quite drunk.

https://fr.scribd.com/doc/112456062/10-Texts-to-Revise-Mixed-Tenses-With-Key

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    Maybe the 'other young people' had already started drinking when the speaker arrived at the party. – Kate Bunting Apr 24 at 8:22
  • "we didn't drink very much" can also be interpreted as a simple statement of fact. – anouk Apr 24 at 20:20
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The choices of continuous or perfect aspects of the verb have to do with how the speaker views what they are saying as well as what they say.

The speaker/writer chose perfect and continuous to explain their past experience of seeing the dancers as drunk. The perfect means that the drinking preceded the speaker's experience of seeing them drunk, and the continuous means that the speaker assumes the drinking occurred gradually, rather than all at once.

As you have noted, the two clauses are independent enough in meaning that the aspects can be varied according to what the speaker wants to convey.

Your last example drops the perfect aspect, and just describes the past from the perspective of the present, while keeping the continuous aspect for the observation of the others.

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