Been and being: when and how to use them

The difference between been and being in meaning and usage has been a popular problem in English language, and some have given up on ever understanding them. However, they were not magically coined, so you don’t need extra effort to understand how to use them.

These words perform separate functions, so let’s demystify them.


Been is a verb and the past participle of be. We can use it to mean ‘visited’ or ‘travelled’ and it is also the past participle of ‘go’ when the action has been completed. It is used with has, have, had, would have, will have, having and their other forms.

1. I have been to Paris, Luanda is next.

2. I don’t want to go to the party because I have been threatened by the celebrant.

3. Having been praised for his bravery, the officer walked away happily.

4. ‘He said you’ve been to Kigali, is that right?’- ‘Yes, I’ve been twice.’ (omission of ‘to Kigali’ to avoid repetition)

Also, it is used as ‘arrived’ in the UK—alone.


  1. The tutor has been. (arrived and left)
  2. He hasn’t been when I left. (hasn’t arrived)

Thus, when you use the above examples or their other forms, use been. This implies that you cannot use have, has, had, would have, etc. with being.

*The meaning of been has to do with completed action.


Being is also a verb, but it is the present participle of be and it is used with is, was, am, are and were.

1. He was just being sarcastic.

2. They were being questioned by the detectives when their lawyer arrived.

3. I’m just being nice, so could you be reasonable for a minute?

4. Being told what to do makes me angry.

*The meaning of being as to do with something ongoing at a particular time.

Being as a noun

Being as a noun refers to a human or a living creature.

Note: When you use it’s been a year, you mean it has been a year, not it is being a year.


Go over the above examples again if you are still lost, I bet you’d be found.


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