I am not sure whether or not there should be past simple or past perfect:

I was able to re-introduce the procedure that had not been being followed anymore.

I was able to re-introduce the procedure that was not being followed anymore.

I think that because the process has not been followed (and was not before the re-introduction), this should be implied by the past perfect.

  • Procedures are followed and processes are carried out. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '13 at 6:55
  • The second variant uses the correct tenses, but I'd prefer 'I was able to re-introduce the procedure that was no longer being followed.' There also needs to have been a previous reference to this procedure (or the 'the' is wrong), and that was probably the place to mention that it had been abandoned. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '13 at 7:08
  • THank you. Why the first is not correct? If it was beig followed in the past and stopped? I mean, there was a duration of following the procedures beforhe the point where I re-introduced that. – SilkySand Sep 23 '13 at 7:14

There is a very simple reason why your second example is not correct: English does not use the perfect tense forms of the progressive aspect of the passive voice.

We just do not say ‘has/had been being done’.

You can say ‘has/had been done’ (perfect passive) or ‘is/was being done’ (progressive passive), but not ‘has/had been being done’ (perfect progressive passive). You choose either perfect tense or progressive aspect in the passive, but not both at once.

Therefore, in your case, you can choose either the perfect passive:

Procedure that had no longer been followed

– or the progressive passive:

Procedure that was no longer being followed

In this case, the progressive aspect of the non-following is more important than the perfective aspect, therefore the progressive form ‘wins’ and is more natural-sounding.


Your way of considering the perfect construction and its semantic meaning is correct, and if the verb had been in the active mood, the past perfect progressive would indeed have been the proper form to use:

I was able to reintroduce the procedure, which we had no longer been following (up to that point).

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    You are wrong. "A book had been being written." - Oxford dictionary. They do say it is rare, but it definitely exists... – SilkySand Sep 23 '13 at 11:09
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    It is possible to create, of course. But it is so rare that it is, to me at least, ungrammatical. Similarly, the future past perfect passive is entirely ungrammatical to me, even though it is a possible construction and a logical argument can easily be made for its use (‘will have had been being done’). For all practical purposes, these forms are not used in English. I have edited the answer to specify that the construction isn’t used, rather than that it is impossible. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 23 '13 at 18:27
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    Amazingly, if I search Google books in the 19th century for "have been being" and "had been being", followed by a verb, these phrases only appear in grammar books. That is, the progressive perfect passive constructions were deemed to be grammatical by grammarians, but nobody every used them. They do start appearing in books in the late 20th century, but are quite rare. – Peter Shor Jan 8 '14 at 18:50
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    To be fair to the 19th century grammarians, I've looked more closely at their grammar books and some of these books argue that, despite their acceptance by other grammarians, these forms do not actually exist. – Peter Shor Jan 8 '14 at 19:04
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    @JanusBahsJacquet: I'll certainly make a note of that! I'll also let her know she's off the hook, grammatically speaking, that is. – rhetorician Jan 8 '14 at 20:50

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