I have a question about the present perfect. Here's a sample dialogue.

Mary: Hey, John...Are you listening? Hello??

John: Oh hey Mary...I've been occupied with this dreadful thought.

Mary: What might that be?

John: I don't even have the courage to talk about it....

In the dialogue, John says,

"I've been occupied with this dreadful thought."

Am I right in saying that this implies this dreadful thought has been occupying his mind?

I've seen this sentence too.

"I am tired now since I've been running for hours."

Here the effect of the present perfect is the same but it's present perfect continuous.

So, in the above example,"I've been occupied..." should it be

I've been being occupied with this dreadful thought

or are they both the same, but it's that the former is more common?

  • “I’ve been being occupied with” is ungrammatical. ‘Occupied’ denotes a continuous state in itself, and as such is not used with the progressive tense. Similarly, you do not say, “I am being hungry”. Aug 26, 2013 at 7:42

2 Answers 2


This has nothing to do with the past/present perfect. "I was occupied by this thought" or "I was running for hours" produces the same effect

This is another case where the past participle is inherently passive but the present participle is inherently active. Change "with" to "by" in the first example. The thought occupied John. Second example, though, John did the running.

To see this more clearly, compare these two:

"John was eating for hours." "John was eaten for hours." :-)


“Am I right in saying that this implies this dreadful thought has been occupying his mind?” -- yes, certainly.

As Janus points out, “I’ve been being occupied...” is not grammatical.

Strictly “I’ve been occupied ...” suggests that one is no longer occupied in that way, although in practice this technicality is seldom observed.

  • 1
    “I’ve been occupied with this problem for two weeks now, and I’m still no closer to finding a solution”—why would the perfect construction imply that one is no longer thus occupied? I would say it’s rather the opposite: it implies that the state of being occupied has carried on from some point in the past and still is at the time of speaking. If I am no longer occupied, I would use the past tense and say, “I was occupied with this”. Aug 26, 2013 at 11:13

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