Been vs Being – Difference and Comparison

What is Been?

In the English language, the word “been” came from the Old English word “bēon” and is the past participle of the verb “be.” The most common use of “been” is in perfect tenses of past, present, and future. It is used with has, have, or had in sentences. The primary function of “been” is to show the completion of an action or its continuity to the present time.

The correct example of “been” can be understood through a simple example. “The task has been done,” in this example, the task is completed. Semantically, it implies that the task started in the past but is now completed. “She has been working hard to achieve success,” This example shows that she started working in the past, but that work is still continuing. The combined reference of the passed time and the passing time is a feature of “been.”

The same “been” can be used quite similarly in the perfect tenses of past and future. Let’s take a simple example. “She had been nice to my mother,” in this example, the niceness was her continuing attribute from point A to point B of time in the past. “The letter will have been written,” this example demonstrates the same functionality of “been” with reference to the future. Despite being a participle, it cannot be used as an adjective like “the been person” or “the been fan” – this is wrong.

What is Being?

In a grammatical sense, “being” is the present participle of the verb “to be” and is used with helping verbs like is, am, are, was, and were. “Being” has varying meanings in different contexts. It can be used as a noun and gerund as well. The usage of “beings” spans all three tenses – past, present, and future. People often get confused about where to use it.

For example, “The work is being done.” The aforesaid example tells that someone is currently doing the work. In this context, it is used as the present participle. Let’s take another example, “We are human beings.” In that context, “being” is functioning as a man because it implies an existing thing, i.e., a human. It can work as a gerund as well. For example, “He hates being called wrong,” or “She was being romantic.”

It is important to understand the indication of a peculiar feature of time in “being” because it implies the doing of something with reference to a single time. Let’s elaborate on it. Suppose the example, “The letter is being written.” In this sentence, there is no indication of the past. Rather, the action is mentioned only with reference to the present. If it were “The letter had been written,” it would have meant that the action was completed after starting somewhere in the past.

Difference Between Been and Being

  1. “Been” is the past participle of the verb “be,” whereas “being” is the present participle of “to be.”
  2. “Been” is only used as the past participle of its root word, whereas “being” can function as a noun and gerund.
  3. “Been” shows the completion of something, whereas “being” shows the continuity of something.
  4. “Been” involves starting of action from point A to point B of time, where “being” indicates only a single time.
  5. “Been” is used with “Has,” “have,” and “had” in all tenses, whereas “being” is used with Was,” “were,” “is,” “am,” and “are.”

Comparison Table Between Been and Being

Parameters of ComparisonBeenBeing
Root“bēon”“to be”
Grammatical CategoryPast ParticiplePresent Participle
Linguistic FunctionVerb/Gerund/NounVerb
Temporal ReferenceSingleDouble
Used With“Has,” “have,” “had”“Was,” “was,” “is,” “am,” “are”

References

  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=OimIIfq10bIC&oi=fnd&pg=PP13&dq=gerund&ots=2TBeISlRnB&sig=tJlF0dXFM_0fnPx2WZFrSfX9DEY
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118358733.wbsyncom081