My Exercise: Fill in the gaps by putting the verbs in the correct tenses
  • Harry looked great. He ______ (wear) his new suit.

    Key: Past Continuous - was wearing

My Question
  • I think "Past Perfect Continuous" also makes sense because of the high chance that he didn't stop wearing his new suit at that moment. What is wrong with my logic?

Thank you!

  • 1
    We mainly use the past perfect for an event in the past that happened before another event in the past. So "had been wearing" implies that Harry wearing the suit happened before he looked great!
    – stangdon
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 11:56
  • Yes, I think that I misunderstood this tense.
    – Thai D. V.
    Commented Sep 19, 2021 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


Harry looked great. He had been wearing his new suit.

To me those sentences imply that Harry had stopped wearing his new suit at the time he was seen to be looking great. The past perfect continuous puts the wearing in the past of another event that is in the speaker's past, and the only event referred to is the time he was seen. Compare

Harry looked great. He had been wearing his new suit, but had changed into a tuxedo.

In this example Harry is wearing the tuxedo when he is seen to be looking good.


Eg : in a novel I looked at Harry. He looked great. ( why? because) He was wearing his new suit.

  • ‘ he had been wearing’ is clumsy and difficult to use : the time span would need to be cut by another action.

The last time I saw him he was wearing jeans but when I saw him just before we left - he looked great - he was wearing a crisp white shirt and a new suit.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .