I've always used 'had been' in conditionals but today I was talking with a friend online and before logging in I practiced speaking English with myself for 30 minutes. So I said: "I had been practicing for 30 minutes before coming here."

1) Was my sentence correct given the context?

2) Could I have also said: "I practiced for 30 minutes before coming here."

1 Answer 1


The auxiliary verb had is used in English to mark what we might call “the past of the past.” Consider the sentence,

I had just fallen asleep when the phone rang.

As we interpret it, we conclude that the phone’s ringing has by now passed and that by the now-past moment of its ringing, the speaker’s falling asleep was already in the past.

So if your own first sentence ended, “...when I came here,” then “had been practicing” would be the best wording. But as you worded it, it sounds a bit off. Your second sentence is fine.

  • Thank you very much for the answer. Do you mean "I had been practicing.....when I came here? Here's another one, please let me know if this one's correct- I just had a burger and said, "That was really good cause I had been craving a burger for the past few days."
    – Ashraf
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 20:05
  • Yes to both questions. Commented May 4, 2020 at 10:53

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