I was wondering if in the construction to be in labour, the verb be is stative, and for this reason we can't use it in the progressive aspect.

Or, is this next construction grammatically correct: she is being in labour. The idea behind this is to focus on the fact that this is temporary, and therefore a present progressive would be appropriate.

  • The verb be is an auxiliary verb required for a non-verbal predicate, and is neither stative nor active; it has no meaning and is just part of the machinery. The predicate (be) in labour (like (be) asleep) is stative, and that's why it can't be used in the progressive. There are active non-verbal predicates, too, and they can be used in the progressive: He's being very careful. – John Lawler Nov 16 '15 at 16:10

The verb "be" is tricky and troublesome. As it sometimes could be changed to a "present participle" when it means "the state of being X" is temporary.

For example,

He is being rude.

You want to express that he behaves rudely at this moment while you know he doesn't behave that way very often. It conveys a different meaning from "he is rude."

"She is being in labor" is quite different. Women have a range of time that they take to give birth to a baby. It depends, however, it doesn't take as long as "a week" for example (of course, in an extreme case, it might take longer).

Therefore, it is not necessary to change "be" to "being" when you want to express "someone is about to give birth to a baby".

This applies to other phrases using a preposition after the verb "be".

He is at school.

We know he will be back from school when school is finished. In the same way, we know the labor will be finished after a certain amount of time.

The below Ngram Viewer shows no usage for "is being in labor/was being in labor"

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