The question is completely edited.

*I felt being dragged by a beast.

The word being cannot be used here, and that's for sure. It sounds wrong. What I am trying to find here is why it is wrong. Well, it seems possible to say "I felt dragged by beast". As you all know, dragged is a participle phrase. Past participle. So, why is it not possible to use present participle "being", if we are able to use the past participle here? What is the grammar rule that prevents it? I've read some of Tim Romano's comments below, but could not fully understand it. Is it different from other participle phrases? Any type of examples, sources, references, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

  • 6
    either "myself" or "as if I were" is required here, because of "being". The being-clause must attach to a nominal, adjectivally, or be an adjectival predicate complement.
    – TimR
    Jul 22, 2015 at 22:15
  • 2
    "I" is not eligible as the glue-point for the being-clause because it's the subject of "felt".
    – TimR
    Jul 22, 2015 at 22:22
  • Hm..interesting..
    – sooeithdk
    Jul 22, 2015 at 22:24
  • I felt myself being pulled under by the anesthesia. I felt as if I were being dragged underwater by an octopus, but it was only a grammar textbook.
    – TimR
    Jul 22, 2015 at 22:26
  • 1
    And of course if you’re slightly masochistic you could also say, “I felt like being dragged by a beast.”
    – Jim
    Jul 23, 2015 at 5:01

5 Answers 5


Certain verbs are what we call subject-control verbs. This means that when they take an infinitival or gerund-participle clause as a Complement, we understand the Subject of the verb in the non-finite clause as being the same as the Subject of the verb in the matrix clause (the main verb).

Let's look at an example:

  • Bob wants the elephant to eat the donut.
  • Bob wants ____ to eat the donut.

In the first example, the noun phrase the elephant, which directly precedes the string to eat, should clearly be understood as the Subject of the infinitival clause. However, in the second example there is no noun phrase preceding this to-infinitive. If you like, the noun phrase that we might expect here has been deleted. It is represented in the example above by a space. Now we understand that the Subject of the verb eat here should be understood to be the same as the Subject of the verb want. We understand the second example like this:

  • Bob wants [himself] to eat the donut.

Generative linguists often talk about the phenomenon above in terms of Equi-deletion.

The example above uses a to-infinitive, but we also see this with verbs that take gerund-participle clauses as a Complement too:

  • Bob minds the baboons being late.
  • Bob minds ____ being late.
  • Bob minds [himself] being late.

The Original Poster's example

  1. *I felt being dragged off by a beast. (ungrammatical)
  2. *Bob felt being dragged off by a beast. (ungrammatical)

The Original Poster wonders why sentence (1) above is not grammatical. The Original Poster is obviously very familiar with subject-control type verbs in English. Now if FEEL was a subject-control verb, we would expect the sentences above to be interpreted like this:

  • I(i) felt [ __(i) ] being dragged off by a beast.
  • Bob(i) felt [ __(i) ] being dragged off by a beast.

If this was the case we would understand the semantic subjects of the infinitival clauses as me and Bob respectively.

However, sentences (1, 2) cannot have this meaning, because FEEL is not a subject-control verb. Sentences (1) and (2) are both ungrammatical. Writers like Bas Aarts, in Modern English Grammar (2011) describe the structure of sentences with verbs of perception, such as HEAR or FEEL, like this:

  • I heard Bob being tickled by the elephant.
  • I heard Bob(i) [ ___(i) being tickled by the elephant ].

In the sentence above, the verb heard is taking a Direct Object, Bob. We interpret the Subject of the gerund-participle clause through the Object of the verb hear (not the Subject). It follows from this that if there is no Direct Object of heard, we will not be able to interpret the gerund-participle clause properly, and it will be ungrammatical. If we insert a Direct Object into sentences (1) and (2) above, we will be able to interpret them like this:

  • I felt myself(i) [ __(i) being dragged off by a beast].
  • Bob felt himself(i) [ __(i) being dragged off by a beast].

We could represent those sentences like this:

  • I felt myself [myself being dragged off by a beast].
  • Bob felt himself [himself being dragged off by a beast].

So if we want to use verbs like FEEL in this way, we must include an explicit Direct Object. If not, we won't be able to interpret the Subject of the following gerund-participle clause.

How about past participles?

Now, the verb FEEL in the sentences above is a verb of perception. That means that we have used our senses to directly perceive something happening. However, we can use FEEL with a different meaning. We can use it too talk about how we are physically or emotionally feeling. Here are some examples:

  • I felt happy.
  • Bob felt euphoric.
  • The elephants felt underappreciated.
  • The boxer felt battered and bruised.

In the sentences above happy describes I, not an event. Similarly euphoric describes Bob. Underappreciated is a description of the elephants' feelings. An in the last sentence battered and bruised describes the state of the boxer. Notice that these words do not describe some event that is being perceived. We cannot construe happy as a Direct Object of the verb felt in the first example. It is completely different from the sentences:

  • I felt the tremor.
  • I felt the earth tremoring.

Here the tremor and what is represented by the earth tremoring are external events that are perceived by me. We could think of them as events which are witnessed by the Subject. But in the examples further above, happy and so forth describe the state of the Subject. These words are not Direct Objects, but Predicative Complements. They just describe the state of the Subject. Notice also that these words are adjectives, not verbs. The last example uses the phrase battered and bruised. We can show that this is an adjective and not a verb because we can use the adverb very to modify it. We can't usually use very to describe verbs:

  • It is very big.
  • I felt very battered and bruised.
  • *I very like it. (ungrammatical).

Now we probably could use some kind of participle as a Predicative Complement here. However, it would need to describe a state, not an action. The predicative Complements that FEEL takes in sentences like this describe states and feelings, not actions We cannot use the participle dragged here. The sentence:

  • I felt dragged by an animal.

Is probably not grammatical. If it is, it means something like I felt like I had been dragged by an animal. It definitely cannot mean I felt that an animal was dragging me, or I felt it as an animal dragged me. It is easy to understand why a non-native speaker might be tempted to use a past participle with this verb. However, the examples that they are hearing which seem to use participle verbs are almost definitely mostly adjectives not verbs.

  • A great, great answer! This is the only answer that is satisfying!! Yet I have one question... Saying "I feel emboldened by her", wouldn't it describe the action done by her? Even though it is describing the state of I , with preposition by, it seems to be an action, not an adjective to me... Wouldn't it just have to be "I feel emboldened"?
    – sooeithdk
    Nov 1, 2015 at 21:33
  • @sooeithdk Thank you! I'd certainly agree that it seems to describe an effect, something perhaps more than a disconnected state. However, this in itself isn't enough to make emboldened a verb here. Apart from the very test, we can also do a become/seem test. Become and seem don't take verbs as a Complement. But we can say He seemed emboldened by her or He became emboldened by her. So emboldened seems to be an adjective here too. I agree though that it seems to express something a bit more complex than a simple disconnected state ... :) Nov 1, 2015 at 22:34
  • Hm... I am not so sure about seem test... Verb seem can take verb phrases as a result of A Raising... (or that's what I've found)
    – sooeithdk
    Nov 2, 2015 at 23:08
  • Also, just one more thing :) I am not so sure what gerund-participle clauses are. Do you mean they are gerunds (when the subject of the sentence is the subject, like Bob minds being late) and participle (when the object of the verb is the subject of the participle, as in Bob minds him being late) or do you simply mean gerund-participle clauses are a whole different concept from gerund and participle?
    – sooeithdk
    Nov 2, 2015 at 23:08
  • @sooeithdk I'm not sure what keeps happening to my anwers to your comments! They seem to be being deleted ... :( Anyhow, I was being a bit lazy when I put it like that, I meant that verbs like BECOME don't take participle forms of verbs. Re gerund-participles, writers like Huddleston & Pullum don't recognise a difference in form between gerunds and participles (the difference is really about grammatical functions, not forms). More importantly any -ing verb form is a clause. Sometimes they don't have an expressed Subject ... Nov 3, 2015 at 0:23

It's bad writing to begin with, If one has to justify its meaning or explain to a reader what it should mean. In my opinion, these are better options that don't leave a reader scratching their head:

1) I felt myself being dragged by a beast.

2) I felt as if I were being dragged by a beast. (in this example you might want to say what you were being dragged through or over, as most people cannot relate to what being dragged by a beast is like. To me it would be preferable to be dragged over a grassy field than a forrest floor.)

In any case, this is a sentence taken out of context. In my opinion the context is necessary in order to make a decision about the correct grammar to use. To me, "I felt being dragged by a beast." seems like a fragment that needs more explaining or completion.


I like the sentence.... since you describe experiencing what may be a unique experience.... "being dragged by a beast"

to better understand you could simply italicize the phrase 'being dragged by a beast'

It's like a sentence I felt the dog's fur.... IF you meant that you were actually being dragged by the beast. It would be the opposite of being numb when the beast started dragging you.

  • If you want to equate it to some other form, maybe it would be like I felt cold. Because being dragged by a beast is not a thing you can feel with your hand, it's a state you can be in.
    – Barmar
    Jul 23, 2015 at 0:14
  • the point I'm trying to make here is that the author can chose to define a unique physical sensation.
    – EndGamer
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:22
  • That's not how someone would express it. They might say I felt the sensation of being dragged by a beast. But since being dragged by a beast is not a common idiom, they wouldn't use it by itself as a noun phrase.
    – Barmar
    Jul 24, 2015 at 20:39

Being means existence or the nature or essence of a person

Feel is an experience (an emotion or sensation) or be aware of (a person or object) through touching or being touched.

felt being is incorrect because you are using a verb and helping verb next to each other. What you are doing is basically stating: grew to be .

What it needs is a Pronoun, adjective or Preposition in between the verb and adverb

Pronoun EX: Felt Myself Being dragged// grew Her to be

Adj Ex: Felt Cold while being dragged// grew stronger to be

Prep EX (sometimes you need more than one) : Felt Around Despite being dragged // grew Outside Since to be small

For information on particle phrases:https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/02/ Sentence structure: https://english.stackexchange.com/posts/283389/edit

btw, felt is an irregular verb so that changes some rules: http://www.grammar.cl/Past/Irregular_Verbs_List.htm

  • So what you are saying is that being is used as an adverb...how?
    – sooeithdk
    Oct 29, 2015 at 2:23
  • I meant Helping verb, let me fix that
    – Abby
    Oct 29, 2015 at 2:28
  • Also, grow her to be...what is it supposed to mean?
    – sooeithdk
    Oct 29, 2015 at 2:34
  • example, its an incomplete sentence
    – Abby
    Oct 29, 2015 at 2:44
  • 1
    What is wrong with using a main verb and an auxiliary verb (helping verb) next to each other? That is normal! "I am angry" or "I don't walk" or "I have eaten". Oct 29, 2015 at 2:45

I guess I am making something wrong, but I highly suspect that the 'murder' is the word drag.

When using drag as transitive verb, we may feel more natural when the direction context is given. For example,

the monster is dragging me to the milk box.

So we may feel more natural when the sentence is written as

I felt being dragged down by a beast.

One potential explanation for the oddness in the sentence is that feel is a be-like verb and a be-like verb is strange when followed by a be or be-like verb. However, I suspect whether it is strange.

It is not rare that a be verb followed by a be verb, like

I am being fried in a pan.

And I think that it can be easily transformed to something like

I feel being fried in a pan.

However, I guess that we can check some composition collections or corpora to see whether feel + being is rare.

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