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."


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.

| improve this answer | |
  • 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 May 3 at 20:05
  • Yes to both questions. – Paul Tanenbaum May 4 at 10:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.