Perfect continuous conditional

This tense can be used in Type 3 conditional sentences. It refers to the unfulfilled result of the action in the if-clause, and expresses this result as an unfinished or continuous action. Again, there is always an unspoken “but..” phrase.

1.  Form

This tense is composed of two elements: the perfect conditional of the verb ‘to be’ (would have been) + the present participle (base+ing).

Subjectwould have beenbase+ing
I
We
would have been
would have been
sitting
swimming
Affirmative
Iwould have beenstudying.
Negative
Youwouldn’t have beenliving.
Interrogative
Wouldwe have beentravelling?
Interrogative negative
Wouldn’tit have beenworking?

Examples to work, Past continuous conditional

AffirmativeNegative
I would have been workingI wouldn’t have been working
You would have been workingYou wouldn’t have been working.
He would have been workingShe wouldn’t have been working
We would have been workingWe wouldn’t have been working
You would have been workingYou wouldn’t have been working
They would have been workingThey wouldn’t have been working
InterrogativeInterrogative negative
Would I have been working?Wouldn’t I have been working?
Would you have been working?Wouldn’t you have been working?
Would he have been working?Wouldn’t she have been working?
Would we have been working?Wouldn’t we have been working?
Would you have been working?Wouldn’t you have been working?
Would they have been working?Wouldn’t they have been working?

2. Function

This tense can be used in Type 3 conditional sentences. It refers to the unfulfilled result of the action in the if-clause, and expresses this result as an unfinished or continuous action. Again, there is always an unspoken “but..” phrase:

Examples

  • If the weather had been better (but it wasn’t), I’d have been sitting in the garden when he arrived (but I wasn’t and so I didn’t see him).
  • If she hadn’t got a job in London (but she did), she would have been working in Paris (but she wasn’t).
  • If I’d had a ball I would have been playing football.
  • If I’d had any money I’d have been drinking with my friends in the pub that night.
  • If I had known it was dangerous I wouldn’t have been climbing that cliff.
  • She wouldn’t have been wearing a seat-belt if her father hadn’t told her to.

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