Although Present Perfect Continuous is less commonly used in its Passive form. I want to know if it's possible to use a sentence below in its passive form.


I have been telling him a long story and not finished yet.


  1. He is being told a long story by me but not finished yet.
  2. He has been told a long story by me but not finished yet.

Is No.1 correct?

What I want to know is whether if I could use the option one as a Passive form of the original statement? or how would a native speaker express that statement in its Passive form?

  • 2
    "I have been telling" is present perfect progressive active voice, but "He is being told" is present progressive passive voice. To get present perfect progressive passive you'll have to say, "He has been being told." Which should tell you why nobody actually uses it. You'll also need a subject and verb for your second clause: "..., and I am not finished yet."
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 9:07
  • @deadrat Wonder how you would say that sentence in native spoken English. Could you please elaborate further ? Many thanks :) Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 18:49
  • It's unlikely that any native speaker would say that, but does WS2's answer suffice?
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 19:03
  • @deadrat I think I should clarify my question. It has been updated. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    They're not equivalent grammatically. One is present perfect and the other is simple present. They're not equivalent in tense. The present perfect covers an interval from an indeterminate past up to the right now. The present here covers right now. Semantically, however, there's not much difference. The progressive implies an interval that straddles the right now to cover the ongoing aspect.
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 20:04

2 Answers 2


To begin with the active sentence is not strictly grammatical. It needs to have I have or an it's between and and not. But that is not particularly important as it doesn't affect the main point.

Neither of the passive suggestions are fully correct.

It should, in my view, be He has been being told a long story by me and it's not finished yet.

  • 1
    @emre22 It has also can be, and is, written it's. But its without an apostrophe, oddly, is the way of writing the possessive.
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 9:39
  • 1
    Perfect Continuous Tenses aren't used in the Passive. But you can use Simple Perfect instead.
    – V.V.
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 10:06
  • 4
    @V.V. How long has he been being seen with her? What's wrong with that?
    – WS2
    Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 10:21
  • 3
    They're not used often, because applying three constructions (Perfect, Progressive, and Passive) to one clause makes for a rather cluttered verb phrase, since each construction adds one auxiliary verb, which must be of the right form, and must be positioned in the right order. Also, with a bitransitive verb like tell, there are two ways to do Passive -- A long story has been told to him and He has been told a long story (the by-agent phrase is normally deleted, since it's rarely important -- otherwise why use Passive?). Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 15:16
  • 1
    @V.V. as JL pointed out, it's not common but there are absolutely times where it comes up. "He's been being told to do something for years now" rolls of my tongue quite smoothly. Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 22:40

In general, you can't replace passive present perfect continuous by any other tense (for some sentences, you can). Consider

That bridge has been being repaired for the past ten years.

You can't replace it with:

That bridge has been repaired for the past ten years.

because that doesn't mean the same thing at all. The first sentence means the repairs are not yet complete, and the second means the repairs were completed ten years ago.

You could also try

*That bridge is being repaired for the past ten years,

but that's ungrammatical because the verb tense is the present, but the time specified is the past.

You could also try

That bridge was being repaired for the past ten years.

This is grammatical, but the problem with it is that it suggests that the repairs are complete, while the original sentence implies that the bridge is still under repair.

What most native English speakers would say is:

They've been repairing that bridge for the last ten years,

which some pedants might object to because it uses the unspecified they, but most people would find quite grammatical. A few might make an exception to the rule of not using passive perfect continuous tenses, and say has been being repaired. Another work-around is to find an active verb that means the same as the passive one:

That bridge has been under repair for the past ten years.

  • 1
    Thanks @Peter Shor. Though it seems like we have no option but to use the active voice =| Commented Oct 24, 2015 at 19:41

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