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, 2018 at 10:17
  • @BillJ I am not sure if past participles can have "progressive" attribute. May 11, 2018 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, 2018 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, 2018 at 11:06

1 Answer 1


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.)

  • Does that mean "been" and "being" are (the only two) exceptions to the general acceptance that all auxiliary verbs are always finite? May 12, 2018 at 11:14
  • @PrasadShrivatsa "Be" is always an auxiliary verb, even when it's the only verb in the sentence.
    – BillJ
    May 13, 2018 at 10:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.