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Yesterday I read Modern English:A Practical Reference Guide written by Marcella Frank, and she gives a paradigm about tenses on page 50. The page shows tenses in active voice and passive voice; she said these four tenses are exceedingly rare:

  1. shall/will be being offered
  2. has/have been being offered
  3. had been being offered
  4. shall/will have been being offered

Why are these tense so rare? Are they normally replaced by other tenses?

  • 1
    These tenses are rare because native English speakers don't use them, and many people probably consider them ungrammatical. See this question. – Peter Shor Jan 3 '15 at 4:10
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Those constructions are all rare because they are too cumbersome, and so shorter constructions are used instead. It is exquisitely difficult to construct a contextual framework in which the longer version would make more sense than the shorter one.

They are also too confusing. All those markers of a continuous aspect are superfluous in all but the rarest of circumstances, especially when combined with a completed aspect.

1. shall/will be being offered

This should normally be simply shall/will be offered without the being part:

  • It’s not being offered now.
  • It will be offered later.
  • We will be offering that later on.

2. has/have been being offered

3. had been being offered

These two try to combine a perfect construction (have + past participle) with a continuous aspect (be + present participle). The speaker should make up their mind about whether the action is completed or continuing.

  • It hasn’t been offered lately.
  • It hadn’t been offered yet.
  • It wasn’t offered yet.
  • It wasn’t being offered yet.
  • It hadn’t been offered yet.
  • We weren’t offering that then.
  • We hadn’t been offering that way back then. (poor)
  • We didn’t offer that way back then. (better)
  • We weren’t offering that way back then. (also better)

4. shall/will have been being offered

This has the same problem as before: a confusion of continuous and completed aspects. Use only one.

  • It will be offered then.
  • We will be offering it later.
  • It will have already been offered by then.

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