Being and Been

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Saad Khan asks to know the difference between being and been.

Been is the past participle form of the verb to be. It is used with the auxiliary verbs has, have, and had to form perfect tenses:

How long has it been since you were in Paris?
He had been writing that novel for thirty years when he died.
How long have you been living here?

Being is the present participle form of the verb to be. It is used with the auxiliaries is, are, was, and were to form continuous tenses:

Mary is being difficult.
The letter is being written.

It is used as a verbal, a word that partakes of both verb and noun:

Being polite is more productive than being rude.

The word being can also be used a noun meaning “creature.”

No human being should be homeless.
I watched a movie about a being from outer space.

Being can also mean “existence.”

We are called from nothingness into being.

In the expression “for the time being,” it means “the present.”

We’ll leave him in charge for the time being.

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6 thoughts on “Being and Been”

  1. Good description, but regarding pronunciation, I suppose the two words could sound alike to a non-native speaker. “Being” is two syllables. “Been” has different pronunciations. For English-English (Canadians and others), the homonym is bean, like the legume. For American English, the homonym is bin, like the container.

  2. I have always had issues with this, this is very informative. The funny thing is that I have forgotten what a perfect sentence or a continuous tense, anyways the article is very useful.

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