Is it correct to say this year has been being great? I have never heard anyone saying been being. Though such expression does sound a bit awkward to my foreign ears, I think it stands correct.

If I say I have been trying to speak to her, it means at an unspecified point in the past I started trying to speak to a certain lady and I haven't succeeded so far - but am still trying to speak to her and it's likely I'll continue trying to speak to her until I either reach out to her or simply give up on trying.

Getting back to my first sentence, the year begun to be great at a certain point in the past, it's still great and is likely to continue to be great in the future. So the combination been being makes sense as it is analogous to the been trying to speak to her case - but I must say it sounds odd (to me).

What are your thoughts?


3 Answers 3


It's a little unusual, but perfectly grammatical.

It is not idiomatic for your example, but it is in the case when we are talking about somebody deliberately behaving in a certain way over a period.

For example:

I've been being very quiet this afternoon.

He's been being friendly all day.

(By contrast He's been friendly all day is neutral: it doesn't imply that he has been deliberately or effortfully friendly).

  • 7
    I agree. I think the clang which you hear when you read the OP's sentence is that "going" is more common than "being" in this context, not inherently from the "been being" itself. "How is your year going?" is much more likely than "How is your year being?", in my experience (BrE).
    – Dan
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 22:25
  • Thanks. May I seek clarification for one more point? Let's take your example I've been being very quiet this afternoon - that means you are intentionally quiet but (unless I am mistaken) it also means you are quiet right now whereas I've been very quiet this afternoon means you were quiet in the afternoon but you are now speaking as much as you normally do. Is my understanding correct? I appreciate it is a very subtle difference and understanding it may not have much impact on day-to-day life, nonetheless I would like to get to the bottom of it for I am keen to improve my English.
    – user83440
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 23:26
  • No @cldjr, that distinction does not appear to me. I suspect you are basing your deduction on the difference between I have worked and I have been working. But these are not parallel. I have been very quiet is a copular (adjectival) structure parallel to I have been angry, whereas I have been being very quiet is a verbal construction using the pseudo-verb "be quiet" - hence the intentionality.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 23:19
  • 2
    @ColinFine Dan, don't you think that he reason it's odd is that it uses a stative verb in a continuous construction - this might also be why How's your year going? is better than How's your year being? Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 11:46
  • I would never say "I've been being very quiet this afternoon." I would say "I've been very quiet this afternoon," or "I've been successfully very quiet this afternoon." (The latter if intention must be stressed.) Anything to avoid the awkwardness. Just as "It's I" is the correct answer to "Who's there?" (while "It's me" is actually wrong)—but few people will ever make use of it. Similarly, if it were up to me, I would always rephrase "been being." It may be correct, but I certainly don't think it's "good" or common. Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 8:35

This year has been being great sounds awful to me. It's using the past participle right next to the present participle, and I have never seen this. Been going is better, but has been great so/thus far sounds best to me.

In my opinion none of the usages make a projection that the year is likely to continue being great.


It's a little awkward, if not ungrammatical. Here's why:

It's often claimed that verbs denote actions. A little contemplation is all that's needed to refute this claim. Possessive HAVE, for example, does not depict an action:

  • I have a Ferrari.

Verbs such as like or believe don't usually describe actions either. It is perfectly natural to say Bob doesn't like George Bush even when Bob is unconscious. We could also say Bob believes that you're a good friend in the same situation. This would seem to show that these verbs do not describe actions at all in such instances. Verbs which genuinely do describe actions are often referred to as dynamic verbs. Verbs which (usually) don't, are usually described as stative verbs or state verbs.

Continuous constructions in English, for example the Present Continuous, or, as in the Original Poster's example, the Present Perfect Continuous can only freely be used with dynamic verbs. The use of the continuous aspect with stative verbs is very restricted. One such usage is the one described in Colin's answer above, namely when we describe someone deliberately choosing to behave in a certain way (or be in a particular state) for a period of time. Note that the subject of the verb in such instances is of course required to be animate:

  • She's been being very quiet.
  • The restaurant's been being very quiet. * (awkward)

It is worth noting that some verbs such as BE and HAVE can combine with certain complements, however, to give a dynamic interpretation:

  • have a party
  • be an idiot

and there is no constraint on these verbs being used in continuous constructions when used with a dynamic interpretation. In other words it is the interpretation of a verb as dynamic or stative which tends to determine whether it can be used in a continuous construction. Consider the following:

  • I was just remembering our time in Paris.
  • I'm not remembering his name. * (awkward)

The Original Poster's example is awkward because it uses the stative predicate be great, in a continuous construction. Note that we cannot make an exception on account of the year deliberately deciding to be great for a certain period of time, because obviously, a year is not an animate entity.

In conclusion stative verbs are don't tend to get along with continuous constructions all that well, and for this reason the sentence:

  • It's been a great year.

... will be more favourably regarded by most listeners than:

  • It's been being a great year.

In contrast

  • I have been trying to speak to her.

.. will be fine because try clearly has a dynamic meaning and so can occur freely in this continuous construction.

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