Confused as to when to use being and when to use been? Are both pronounced the same way? Is it that important to know the difference?
It is most definitely very important to know the difference between the two. Let´s start with the ONE thing they have in common. They are both participles of the verb “to be.” This is why a lot of students have a hard time: we’re dealing with the same verb. Now, the main difference is that being is the present participle (all present participles end in “–ing”, like swimming, running, learning). On the other hand, been is the past participle (some past participles end in “–ed”, like learned, studied; others are irregular like, run, swum, written, spoken).
Now, let´s see how each is used.
The present participle, being, is used in the passive voice, namely, the passive form of the present continuous or progressive, and the past continuous or progressive. Let´s look at this more closely.
1) Passive form of the present continuous or progressive: English courses are being taught in Denver. Classes are being given every day. Sarah is being interviewed for a teaching position as we speak. Here, we clearly see that these actions are in progress in the present, or at the time of speaking; this is why we use the present continuous. Being is necessary in its passive form.
2) Passive form of the past continuous or progressive: English courses were being taught when I arrived in Denver. Classes were being given every day. The day I arrived, Sarah was being interviewed for a teaching position. Here, on the other hand, we see that the actions were in progress at a specific moment in the past (when I arrived in Denver). But in both continuous tenses we use being in the passive forms.
The past participle, been, is also used in the passive voice, but can also be used in several other tenses as well.
Uses of been:
1) Present perfect: I’ve been to Denver twice. I’ve never been late to class. I’ve been an English student for five years.
2) Present perfect continuous or progressive: I have been teaching English for over 15 years. I’ve been working in Denver.
3) Past perfect: Denver was a great place to study! I had never been there before. I had never been with such interesting, friendly people.
4) Past perfect continuous or progressive: When I first came to Denver, I had been studying English for five years. I had been looking for a different kind of learning experience.
5) Passive form of the present perfect: Many classes have been given this semester. English students have been taught well. Several topics have been covered.
6) Passive form of the past perfect: George did very well on his test. The grammar had been explained very clearly.
Finally, let´s consider how each is pronounced. Being is pronounced as two syllables, be-ing, while been, is just one syllable, and sounds like “bin”, as in “recycle bin.”
If you’re interested in learning more about these and other topics, you should consider taking English lessons at LCI Language Centers. The teachers have years of experience and will gladly clear up your doubts.