On my last lesson I had a discussion with my teacher about the sentence described below. The reason was that on my grammar reference in one of my books is written that past perfect continuos can be used to emphasize on the continuity, duration and repeated activities.

We received one sentence and according with the above my answer was Maise had been eating

Maise ate / had been eating sweets all evening so it was not suprising she didn't want any supper.

Unfortunately my teacher said that the correct answers is Maise ate

Can I ask you why ?

Gramma section

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  • 6
    Because your teacher is wrong? Welcome to the site!
    – Stephie
    Oct 28, 2015 at 11:42
  • That is insane... I noticed several times that he is giving me contradictory information...
    – Daniel
    Oct 28, 2015 at 11:50
  • To my ears and eyes, both are correct. Oct 28, 2015 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


The teacher made an error.

Past perfect continuous is to describe actions in the past that continued into another point in the past; or a duration in the past.

It can be also used for something that caused a thing in the past (Maise eating sweets before supper made her not want supper), which is true in this case.

This should help you understand this structure:



Well, both versions are valid English. The difference is in which part of the sentence is signaled to be main issue.

If the story is about eating sweets, use ate:

It was the day after Halloween, and Maise had made a huge haul. She'd come home with a pillowcase stuffed with practically her own weight in fun-size sweets bars. On All Saints Day, Maise ate candy all evening, so it was no surprise she didn't want any supper.

If it's about spoiling Maise's dinner, use had been eating.

  • While both versions are valid English, if you had to make a choice on a test, I would definitely expect the correct answer to be had been eating. Oct 28, 2015 at 22:34

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