Been versus being


I'm struggling with the use and understanding of these two concepts. Can you please help?

asked Feb 07 '13 at 07:18 regine New member

2 answers


To supplement what Tolley and Sanjay have said: 


being + past participle describes a passive action which is happening to the speaker right now, or in the future.

I am being eaten alive by all these mosquitoes.  (happening now)

She is being interviewed for the job at 1 pm tomorrow. (happening in the future)


being + adjective describes a temporary state.

I am being silly.

She is being playful.


have + been + past participle can describe at least 4 different scenarios:

(1) a past state, not currently true

I have been a lawyer and a policeman, but now I am a pilot.

(2) followed by to, a past visit - the subject of the sentence is not currently there

I have been to Japan and India, but I've never been to Poland.

(3) only with a time phrase using since or for, showing an state that began in the past and continues now

I have been a teacher for six years.

I have been a teacher since 2007.

She's been here for ten years.

He's been the company president since last month.

(4) followed by in and only with a time phrase using since or for, showing where someone went in the past and continues to be now

She has been in the bathroom for thirty minutes.  Maybe she is sick?

My boss has been in Rome on business since last Tuesday.


have + been + present participle can describe at least 3 scenarios:

(1) with an action verb, and with or without a definite frequency phrase, to describe a routine activity in the recent past which is not occurring now

I have been reading a lot about Obama in the newspaper. (no frequency phrase)

I have been working out at the gym three times a week. (definite frequency phrase)

[I cannot come up with a good example of have + been + present participle with an indefinite frequency phrase such as often, so my preliminary conclusion is that such constructions are ungrammatical.  I can think of umpteen examples with the past participle gone + present participle, such as I have often gone swimming there, but not using been.  Can anyone enlighten me otherwise?]

(2) with an action verb, and only with time phrases using since or for, to show an action that began in the past and continues now (the continuation could be actively happening now, or only routinely/regularly)

I've been reading a lot about Obama since he won re-election. (probably routinely/regularly)

I've been working out at the gym since last year. (probably routinely/regularly)

I've been listening to you for ten minutes and I still can't understand what you mean. (actively continues now)

I've been working on this report since yesterday morning, and I am still not finished.  (actively continues now)

(3) when the present participle is being or getting, and followed by a past participle, it is a present perfect passive construction (one of the most uncommon and unusual, but grammatical, verb tenses in English!) that shows something that has been happening to the subject of the sentence on a routine basis.  Almost always, this strange construction could be reworded in simpler English.

I've been being attacked by my political opponents.  (More commonly rephrased as My political opponents have often attacked me.)

I've been getting stung by bees (More commonly rephrased as  I've been getting stung by bees a lot.)


Perhaps this list is not exhaustive, but I am exhausted.  :)


I hope this helps.

link comment edited Feb 09 '13 at 06:52 Shawn Mooney Expert

I am being lazy nowadays. (This means that I was not lazy in the past)

I am being told to work hard. (This is in the passive form-An action done by others)


I have been working for Infosys for 13 years.

The temple has been built by Mr. Ram.(Passive form)


"Been" is the past participle of "Be".

link comment answered Feb 07 '13 at 07:26 sanjay Expert

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