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There is this sentence:

There are several parts to this problem, the most important (part) being that many of the learners find it rather boring.

I would like to know if the phrase in bold-faced type is short form of a clause or something.
If yes, what is the original form of the sentence?

To me, it sounds like the original form is "the most important of which is that..."
As in:

The man who lives next door = the man living next door

Does it follow the same rule or is the case different?
And, can we simply use the verb "is" instead and say "the most important is that ..."
If yes, what is the difference between "...being that..." and "...is that..." in the sentence? Is it only a matter of style?

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There are several parts to this problem, the most important being that many of the learners find it rather boring.

This is an absolute construction in which There are several parts to this problem is the main clause serving as anchor. The clause the most important being that many of the learners find it rather boring is a supplement. It is not syntactically integrated into the main clause. The non-finite gerund-participle verb form, being, is necessary to mark this clause as subordinate. If we had a tensed verb, we would just have two distinct sentences:

  • There are several parts to this problem. The most important being is that many of the learners find it rather boring.

Some of the other answers here suggest that this type of construction is ungrammatical. This is clearly not the case. Here are three examples of such constructions from published books:

  1. The Societa Nazionale d'Industrie Meccaniche are proprietors of two establishments at Naples, the most important being that of Pietrasa, which they have hired from the government. (Journal of the Society of Arts - Volume 19 - p. 680)

  2. There are many effects of lactulose and soluble fibers on ammonia metabolism, the most important being that ammonia is metabolized by the colonic bacterial flora to produce acids that reduce the pH of colonic content. (Textbook of vetinary internal medicine, Ettinger et al, p.1634)

  3. As a perspective, it has made certain assumptions, the most important being that the human being is phenomenal, caused, open to scientific measurement, and not an active agent in relation to his or her environment—not self- determining or free.(The Production of Reality: Essays and Readings on Social Interaction, Jodi O'Brien, p.40)

These have been taken from the many hundreds of examples from GoogleBooks available here.

  • Good answer. What about the examples on how to turn a clause with a conjunction into one in -ing form without a conjuction? I mean, does "There are several parts to this problem, the most important being that... " mean the same as "There are several parts to this problem, the most important of which is that..." as in "The road which connects the two villages... = the road connecting the two villages..." Does the "being that" clause follow the same rule? – Englishfreak Jun 6 '17 at 13:49
  • One construction that I have run into quite often in my time as a copy editor is the use of separate sentences to contain the form of wording that (as you say) is beyond reproach in a single sentence. Thus: "I have often wondered about using two sentences to express this type of idea without altering being to is. The reason being [not is] that the second sentence looks like a fragment." But I suppose that to the extent that we're focusing on punctuation here, we're not disputing the grammaticality of the form in and of its (spoken-English) self. – Sven Yargs Jun 6 '17 at 21:02
  • @SvenYargs It's interesting isn't it, that supplements, as CamGEL would call them, are often presented as separate sentences when they involve a clause with a subject? It kind of seems to support the hypothesis that they aren't integrated into the main clauses but are somehow stand-alone? – Araucaria Jun 6 '17 at 21:55
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    @Sharaman I think this construction is really aout how to turn two sentences into a single sentence. The which relative clause part of your examples really comes from the fact that there is an anaphoric (backwards-looking) relationship between the two clauses. This happens because of the fused modifier-head noun phrase where the noun has been ommitted--exactly as you indicate--in "the most important", which is interpreted as "the most important part". That relationship where you understand "part" because of the missing noun is what gives you the effect of a relative clause. :) – Araucaria Jun 6 '17 at 22:04
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    @Sharaman It's mainly because the two sentences are joined into one. The -ing bit is to show that that clause is the subordinate clause, as opposed to the other one being subordinate. The "X important one of which" is an alternative phrasing, which is available because of the missing "one"/other noun in the subject noun phrase. Erm, so actually I suppose it's both :) – Araucaria Jun 6 '17 at 23:14
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The OED lists it as a conjunction; etymology is:

being, present participle of be v. (compare be v. 3).

  1. It being the case that, seeing that, since. Now regional and nonstandard.

However, there are examples over centuries. Google Ngram provides a variety, although there are many false hits.

According to the OED:

It can immediately begin a clause, or is used with that:

b. With that.

a1642 H. Best Farming & Memorandum Bks. (1984) 126
They wente all for halfe gates, beinge that they coulde not bee discerned.

1780 Mirror No. 75 (1781) 3 1 For this, you must answer to yourself, being that you are able to write printed papers.

1813 J. Austen Let. 11 Oct. (1952) 86, I am tired of Lives of Nelson, being that I never read any.

1815 Scott Guy Mannering I. ix. 138 With whom he himself had no delight in > associating, ‘being that he was addicted unto profane and scurrilous jests’.

1855 C. Kingsley Westward Ho! xiv. 270 It goes sorely against my conscience, Sir; but being that he is your cousin, of course—.

1942 A. Lewis Last Inspection 159, I sent him to clean your kit, sir, being that Thomas your batman isn't available.

1994 Rolling Stone 2 June 20/1 Being that I had been out since I was 17, nothing has changed.

2003 ‘Zane’ Nervous xvii. 100 She also needs to improve her computer science grade and being that you're a programmer, I would think you could help her out with that.

Also "being as" or "being as how."

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    In all those examples you gave, 'being that' means 'since'. But the meaning of the phrase is different in the context I provided, I assume. – Englishfreak Jun 5 '17 at 11:30
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    In your examples, being means it being the case that or similar--where it is a non-referential dummy subject. The OP's sentence is rather different. – Araucaria Jun 5 '17 at 12:50
  • @Araucaria Man I guess the answer is irrelevant then. You could do your own. The OP's sentence seemed acceptable to me. – Xanne Jun 5 '17 at 18:17
  • It’s a little scary to challenge OED but where could anyone get the idea being, as used here, was a conjunction, or that that quote was an etymology? Equally, where could anyone have got the idea any of It being the case that, seeing that, since - let alone all of them - were regional and nonstandard please? If they did, is it only me to whom it seems odd that any dictionary, let alone Oxford, would use nonstandard without a hyphen? – Robbie Goodwin Jun 6 '17 at 17:02
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The sentence, as constructed, is considered to be poor usage. In fact, it may not even be proper grammar. The correct grammar would be "the most important of which is that". Because the 1st clause of the sentence uses a present non-continuous tense, so the 2nd clause must use a present non-continuous tense. It is grammatically incorrect to switch tenses within a sentence.

  • But does "being" actually have a continuous tense? The second exapmle I provided (the man who lives next door = the man living next door) is what you get in many grammar books. – Englishfreak Jun 1 '17 at 7:15
  • If you can add "sometimes" to a verb, then it's not in a continuous tense. So I would question that "the man living next door" is syntactically equivalent to "the man who lives next door". It would depend on the context. Because, if you add context by adding "sometimes", you get "the man who sometimes lives next door." While "the man sometimes living next door" and "the man living next door sometimes" are not grammatically correct. – jinha87 Jun 2 '17 at 19:42
  • This is what 'English Grammar in Use' says, with examples. "You can also use -ing clause to say what happens 'all the time', not just at a particular time: The road connecting the two villages is very narrow = the road (that) connects the two villages." – Englishfreak Jun 3 '17 at 11:41
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    There is nothing ungrammatical at all about the OP's example :-( – Araucaria Jun 5 '17 at 12:48
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    Really? What on Earth gives you the idea there's any poor usage in there, please? – Robbie Goodwin Jun 6 '17 at 16:47

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