2

The word been appears to be simply an auxiliary verb in all perfect progressive tenses (also in some perfect tenses with passive construction) and it is easy to see it that way. However, from a classroom perspective, it seems to confuse a lot of students because unlike other auxiliary verbs, been does not appear to be a finite verb as it is a participle form of "be".

They have been planning it for weeks. [perfect progressive]

All the work has been done. [perfect, passive construction]

Let me rephrase my question into two parts:

  1. Is been an auxiliary verb in the example sentences quoted above?

  2. If yes, is been the only auxiliary verb that can be non-finite?

  • "Been" is a perfect past participle as complement to auxiliary "have", progressive in your first example, and passive in the second. – BillJ May 11 '18 at 10:17
  • @BillJ I am not sure if past participles can have "progressive" attribute. – Prasad Shrivatsa May 11 '18 at 10:26
  • Clauses with a perfect past participle as head occur as complement to auxiliary "have", and accept progressive and passive "be", as your examples demonstrate. – BillJ May 12 '18 at 14:33
  • Are you clear now that "been" is an auxiliary verb in your examples? Note that all forms of "be" are auxiliary verbs, including the non-finite ones. – BillJ May 13 '18 at 11:06
3

First of all, to answer the OP's question 1, been is grammatically termed as an auxiliary verb in both the example sentences provided. To answer the question 2, not only been but also being is termed as an auxiliary verb non-finite form, when it comes in a progressive passive voice sentence as All the work is being done.

Always been and being are not auxiliaries, but they are non-finite forms. The verb be and its inflections can act as main verb in sentences.

Non-finite verb forms are gerunds, participles (present/past) and infinitives.

In the sentence I've never been to Kenya, been is the past participle form of the verb be meaning visit, and it is a non-finite, but not an auxiliary verb.

I started screaming at my parents for trying to send me to camp.

(Screaming and trying - gerunds) (To send - infinitive verb)

Arriving late, I saw the other kids and they seemed to be excited.

(Arriving - present participle) (to be - infinitive verb) (excited - past participle.)

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  • Does that mean "been" and "being" are (the only two) exceptions to the general acceptance that all auxiliary verbs are always finite? – Prasad Shrivatsa May 12 '18 at 11:14
  • @PrasadShrivatsa "Be" is always an auxiliary verb, even when it's the only verb in the sentence. – BillJ May 13 '18 at 10:56
-1

Here are you example sentences:

They have been planning it for weeks. [perfect progressive]

All the work has been done. [perfect, passive construction]

Here are the responses in Q&A form:

Q:Is been an auxiliary verb in the example sentences quoted above?

A: Yes.

Q:If yes, is been the only auxiliary verb that can be non-finite?

A: No. Auxiliary verbs include be, do, have(primary auxiliary verbs) and modals. While the primary auxiliary verbs have non-finite forms, modals do not. Note that primary auxiliary verbs can function as main verbs in a sentence. Here are some examples where they work as auxiliaries:

be:

Neptune was discovered in 1950.

Jack is playing tennis.

do:

I do love you.

What did Newton discover?

have:

They had accomplished in just a few decades what we couldn't do in a century.

Police have established the identity of the perpetrator.

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  • 1
    Please give examples of non-finite usages of primary auxiliaries. Not having done so leaves the answer potentially mere opinion. – Edwin Ashworth May 11 '18 at 8:49
  • @EdwinAshworth Edited to include examples. But opinion? :) – peerless May 11 '18 at 9:17
  • 'Be', 'do' and 'have' inflect for number and tense. – Edwin Ashworth May 11 '18 at 9:44
  • @peerless I am aware that "be", "have" and "do" can act as both auxiliaries and main verbs. However, I am not sure how they can function as non-finite verbs (as claimed by you). The forms of primary auxiliaries you have used in your examples are functioning as finite verbs, not as non-finite. – Prasad Shrivatsa May 11 '18 at 10:07

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