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Difference between Been and Being

Updated on December 9, 2015

What is the difference between ‘been’ and ‘being’?

What is the difference between ‘been’ and ‘being’? I tend to find it difficult correctly using these two verbs in sentences. Sometimes I find myself using ‘been’ when I should be using ‘being’, and vice versa.

Although the words been and being are totally different from each other, it is very common to see writers use them interchangeably, mainly because they get confused as to which of the two should be used in making a particular sentence. Hopefully this article will help readers understand the difference between the two words and how to go about using them properly.

Before we delve into the difference between the two confusing words, it is imperative that readers know that the words been and being are both verbs. They are forms of the primary auxiliary verb ‘be’. These are all the forms of the verb ‘be’ in English: am, is, are, was, were, been, and being.

In order to understand the difference between the verbs been and being, let us take a look at them one after the other and understand what each of them actually is. We shall start with been before moving on to being.

Been

The verb ‘been’ is the past participle of the verb ‘be’. If you are confused about what a past participle is, then please don’t be. This is what a past participle is - it is the form of a verb that indicates past or completed action. Any verb that can be used after the verbs has, have and had are past participles. For example, the past participle of the verb eat is eaten. Example: I have eaten the food. The past participle of the verb cook is cooked. Example: He has cooked the food.

And of course the past participle of the verb ‘be’ is ‘been’. Examples:

  • I have been there before.
  • He has been to London three times this year.
  • She said she had been working at the salon before she went back to school.

As you can see from the sentences above, the verb ‘been’ is used comfortably after the verbs have, has, and had. This is the reason why some grammarians say that the verb ‘been’ is always used after the verbs have, has, and had. This is totally true!

It is worth noting that while been can be used comfortably after the verbs has, have, and had because it is a past participle of ‘be’, the verb ‘being’ can never be used after these verbs.

Examples:

  • John has been working since yesterday. (CORRECT)
  • John has being working since yesterday. (WRONG)

NOTE: Besides being the past participle of the verb ‘be’, been is used when we are trying to say that we have gone to a particular place and have come back.

Examples:

  • I have been to New York.
  • She has been there already.

Being

The verb ‘being’ is the present participle of the verb ‘be’. What is the present participle? The present participle is the form of a verb that ends in –ing. The present participle is used in forming continuous tenses. For example, the present continuous of the verb ‘eat’ is ‘eating’ as in the sentence - John is eating the food.

Since being is the present participle of ‘be’, it can never be used after the verbs have, has, and had. But it is used after the verbs is, am, are, was, and were.

Examples:

  • John is being stubborn again.
  • I am not being stubborn.
  • He was being considered for the position.
  • They were being careful.

Being can also be used to give the reason why something happened or is happening as in the examples below:

  • Being very hungry, I was forced to eat all the food.
  • Being a naturally selfish person, John left the children behind.

Being as a noun

Besides being a verb, the word ‘being’ can also be used as a noun. As a noun, being can be any of the following:

  • A living thing such as a person. For example, a human being. Other examples are: rational beings, selfish beings, alien beings, intelligent being, etc.
  • The most important quality of a person. For example: The whole of John’s being had been taken over by his quest to find a cure for the disease.
  • When something starts to exist, we say it has come into being. Example: The anti-terrorism law came into being in 1998.

Been vs. Being

Been
Being
They have been waiting here for five hours now.
You are being silly.
Where have you been?
Being a good citizen, I decided to report her to the authorities.
Have you ever been to Kenya?
You are being too serious for my liking.
It has been a while since we last saw each other.
The meeting is being held next week.
He has always been a very greedy man.
Two people got injured today as a result of her being careless.

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