Being, Been Revisited

Sample 1:

“Meanwhile, a ransom of #6 million is been demanded by the kidnappers to secure the release of the three abducted people…effort to contact the public relations officer of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, Ogun Command, DSP AbimbolaOyeyemi proof abortive as he is not picking calls.” (Unknown gunmen attack church, abduct three worshippers in Ogun, Opera News, 24 October, 2021)

The word been deserves attention in the following context: “#6 millionis beendemanded.” Notice that the word is preceded by a be-form (is). This fact takes us straight to the heart of the problem: It is the form being that is regularly and consistently preceded by the relevant forms of BE.

To understand the nature of the error, we need to sketch and illustrate the two rules that are here confused. First is the rule of the perfect tense situated in the structure of the passive tense. The perfect tense is of the following nature: have/has/had plus a past participle form of the verb.


Let’s read the following sentences:

1) David has written the letter.

2) The girl has spoken the truth.

3) The men have broken their promise.

4) The officers have prepared the report.

5) The boy had released the secret before the warning came.

6) The police had arrested the man before the court order was vacated.

Those are examples of the perfect tense outside the passive structure. The same grammatical principle is maintained in the context of the passive structure. In this case, the structure is of the form: have plus been, where been represents the past participle.


Now read the following sentences:

1a) The company hasbought new cars (active sentence in the perfect tense)

1b) New cars have been bought by the company (passive sentence in the perfect tense).

2a) The police have arrested the criminal. (active sentence in the perfect tense)

2b) The criminal has been arrested by the police. (passive sentence in the perfect tense)

3a) That transaction has created many fraudulent loopholes. (active sentence in the perfect tense)

3b) Many fraudulent loopholes have been created by that transaction. (passive sentence in the perfect tense)

4a) The central government had constructed numerous roads. (active sentence in the perfect tense.)

4b) Numerous roads had been constructed by the central government. (passive sentence in the perfect tense)

5a) Soldiers have invadedthe crisis-torn zone (active sentence in the perfect tense)

5b) The crisis-torn zone has been invaded by soldiers. (passive sentence in the perfect tense)

6a) The library has stocked over six million books. (active sentence in the perfect tense)

6b) Over six million books have been stocked by the library. (passive sentence in the perfect tense)

The second rule is that of the continuous or progressive tense. The rule is of the nature: be plus the ing form of the verb (ieis going; was singing; werewashing; are training; etc).


Let’s read the following sentences:

1a) The church is planning a one-week revival programme. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

1b) A one-week revival programmeis beingplanned by the church. (passive sentence in the progressive tense)

2a) The people were distributing seditious pamphlets. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

2b) Seditious pamphlets were beingdistributed by the people. (passive sentence in the progressive tense)

3a) The scientists are examining the specimen. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

3b) The specimen is being examined by the scientists. (passive sentence in the progressive tense).

4a) The girl was washing the clothes. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

4b) The clothes were being washed by the girl. (the passive sentence in the progressive tense)

5a) The musician is composing new songs. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

5b) New songs are being composed by the musician. (passive sentence in the progressive tense)

6a) The lecturer isgrading the scripts. (active sentence in the progressive tense)

6b) The scripts are being graded by the lecturer. (passive sentence in the progressive tense.)


Now let’s have more examples from another effort in this place: structures:

1a) The Boko Haram insurgents have abducted over two hundred school girls. (active sentence)

1b) Over two hundred school girls have been abducted by Boko Haram insurgents. (passive sentence)

2a) Almost all the political parties have conducted primary elections. (active sentence)

2b) Primary elections have been conducted by almost all the political parties. (passive sentence)

3a) Armed robbers have taken over our cities. (active sentence)

3b) Our cities have been taken over by armed robbers. (passive sentence)

4a) Members of the National Conference had recommended fundamental changes in the constitution. (active sentence)

4b) Fundamental changes in the constitution had been recommended by members of the National Conference. (passive sentence).

5a) The police have arrested the criminal elements in the group. (active sentence).

5b) The criminal elements in the group have been arrested by the police. (passive sentence).

6a) The security agencies have addressed the issue of security challenges. (active sentence)

6b) The issue of security challenges has been addressed by the security agencies. (passive sentence)

In each of the six pairs of sentences, both the active and the passive sentences are in the perfect tense: have plus the past participle. In addition, the passive sentence contains the form, been: have been, has been, and had been.


Furthermore, the form been can also occur in the following contexts:

1) You have been a wonderful host.

2) It has been an exciting experience.

3) It hasbeen some time!

4) She has been a little careless.

5) She has been somewhat unlucky in her choice of husband.

At this point we need to make a distinction between the forms been and being. The form being occurs in the context of the continuous or progressive tense within the passive structure. That is, two conditions are absolutely essential: the progressive/continuous tense and the passive structure. The continuous/progressive tense is marked by: a relevant be form plus the ing form of the verb. Please note the finaling in the form being.


Now let’s read the following pairs of sentences:

1a) Farmers are harvesting yams. (active sentence)

1b) Yams are being harvested by farmers. (passive sentence)

2a) We were pursuing wrong ends. (active sentence)

2b) Wrong ends were being pursued by us. (passive sentence)

3a) The girls are writing a play. (active sentence)

3b) A play is being written by the girls. (passive sentence)

4a) The engineers are building new structures. (active sentence)

4b) New structures are being built by the engineers. (passive sentence)

5a) The pioneer workers are experiencing grave challenges. (active sentence)

5b) Grave challenges are being experienced by the pioneer workers. (passive sentence)

6a) Members of the committee were discussing the matter. (active sentence)

6b) The matter was being discussed by members of the committee. (passive sentence)

Please note the following segments of the passive sentences: are being; were being; was being; is being. It is mandatory for the word being to be preceded by: is, are, am, was, were. These are known as be-forms.


The word being can also occur in the following contexts:

1) The man is being unrealistic.

2) You are just being childish.

3) The politicians are simply being dishonest.

Even in these contexts, the word being is preceded by a relevant form of be.  Let’s reiterate: The word been is regularly and invariably preceded by have-forms: havebeen; has been; had been. The word being is regularly and invariably preceded by the relevant forms of be: is being; are being; am being; was being; were being.

Let’s not forget that our starting-point is the defective structure: having being. From the discussion and illustrations so far, we should know that the structure should now be: having been.


Before leaving this point, it may be expedient to illustrate the usage of the form having:

1) Having been traumatized by the death of her husband, the woman does not seem inclined to re-marry soon.

2) Havingbeen dismissed from service, the man cannot take up any other job from any government establishment.

3) His licencehaving been withdrawn, the surgeon cannot practise in any part of the world.

4) Having been introduced to literary studies early in his educational career, the scholar has grown to love literature with a passion.

5) Having been born into a royal family, the prince understands perfectly how feudalism works.

6) Having been trained in one of the best universities in the world, the man demonstrates a scholarship that commands respect across the globe.


The two grammatical features of interest are: have/has/had been and is/am/are/were being.

At any rate, the form being should replace been in the context under review.

Next, we note the form proof which occurs in the following context: “effort to contact the public relations officer…proof abortive.” The form (proof) occurs in a slot that clearly belongs to a verb. But is proof a verb? The answer is no. It is a noun. The verb-form is prove. Obviously, the writer is not knowledgeable about the difference between the two forms.


Now read the following constructions in which the noun proof is put in sentences:

1) The grandeur of nature is sufficient proof that God exists.

2) If your conscience is the only proof of your innocence, then you don’t have any proof.

3) Scientists have long provided proof that the earth is spherical.

4) The prosecuting police officer has been unable to provide any proof that the man committed the crime.

5) Providing proof can be extremely embarrassing to victims of rape.

6) Lawyers, judges and policemen are interested in having proof as to who committed what crime.

7) My rather heavy accent is a proof of my Yoruba origin.

8) There is no proof that the sciences are more ‘difficult’ than the arts.

9) He was confronted with proof of his involvement in the crime.

10) Without providing any proof, nobody would accept your claims.

11) The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

12) The court has asked him to present the proof of his ownership of the property.

13) The lady is a living proof that no condition is hopeless.

14) The DNA test provides the proof that he is the father of the child.

15) The police refused to accept the so-called proof that he was not at the scene of the crime.

16) Do psychiatrists regard intelligent conversation as proof of perfect sanity?

17) Is there any proof that men and monkeys went through the same evolutionary processes up to a point?

18) Human behaviour all over the world offers the proof that man is naturally depraved.


You can now read the following sentences containing the verb form:

1) You must be prepared to prove your case in a court of law.

2) Can you prove that love is blind?

3) Scientists have long proved that the earth is spherical.

4) The job proved to be a difficult one.

5) The prosecutor was not able to prove the case against the suspect.

6) Let us hope the new drug will prove effective.

7) Your absence does not prove that you were not involved in the crime.

8) It is up to you to prove the authenticity of the document.

9) His mental alertness proves that he is not as old as his appearance suggests.

10) All evidence points to the fact that he is a foreigner; he has to prove that he is a Nigerian.

11) As black men, do we need to prove that we are as intelligent as white men?

12) The recent developments have proved all of them wrong.

13) Up till now the lawyer has not been able to prove his client’s innocence beyond reasonable doubt.

14) Experience has proved that if we do not protest we cannot secure our rights.

15) No one can prove, using historical facts, that one monarch is superior to the other.

16) I believe intuitively that this is the correct position even though I cannot prove it using hard facts.

17) He was laboring to prove a trivial point.

18) The Nigerian experience has proved that a nation can survive a major civil war without losing its corporate existence.

At any rate, the form proved should replace proof in the context under consideration.


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