being + past participle

< Previous | Next >

Yichen

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone.

I learned that “being + past participle” has two basic meanings: one means an ongoing action as in “The bridge is being built” while the other a state as in “Being satisfied with the boy’s answer, the old lady decided to stay here for some more time.” (Though the “satisfied” in the latter may not be a past participle and “being” is not necessary, I cannot find a better example)

I want to be confirmed if I am correct about the following sentences:

1. Being built in 1900, the old bridge still looks new.
I think “being” is wrongly used because the bridge was built in 1900. I don’t think “being built” would mean a state. It seems more like an ongoing action.

2. Being held up in the water by Old Tom, James was confident he would survive.
I think “being” is acceptable in this sentence, because there is an ongoing action:James was being held up by Old Tom. However, sentence2 would be more concise without “being”.

3. Being helped out by the killer whales, the whalers were able to make a successful kill.
My opinion is basically the same as sentence2, but I don’t know if “out” is necessary. Maybe, the sentence should be split as:
Helped out by the killer whales, the whalers were able to make a successful kill.
Helped by the killer whales, the whalers were able to make a successful kill.
Being helped by the killer whales, the whalers were able to make a successful kill.

What do you think of these “beings” here?

Thank you.
 
  • Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Your analysis is good. But quite honestly, I wouldn't use being in any of these cases, just the simple past participle is enough.

    I would use being in the present tense, to accompany an adjective: Being English, I don't know how to say this in Chinese, but being intelligent you will surely understand.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    And, for what it's worth, I would in any case advise against the too-frequent use of this construction. I translate from French, and I find that some French writers begin 50% of their sentences with this "hanging participle" construction. Sometimes it's not even logical, like: "(Being) born in 1948, Jean Dupont is now professor of physics in Paris". As if his date of birth had any logical connection with his present job!

    I convert most of them to the more usual English form: "Jean Dupont was born in 1948; he is now professor of physics in Paris".
     

    slovac

    Senior Member
    Could I ask? If I changed Yichen's sentences a bit, would they have same meaning?

    Being built in 1900, the old bridge still looks new. = Even though the old bridge was build in 1900, it looks like new one.
    Being held up in the water by Old Tom, James was confident he would survive. = While James was being help up in water by Old Tom, he was confident to survive. (Water is uncountable, isn't it?)
    Being helped out by the killer whales, the whalers were able to make a successful kill. = The whaleres were able to make a succesful kill by helping out the killer of whales.

    Thank you.
     

    Yichen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Sometimes it's not even logical, like: "(Being) born in 1948, Jean Dupont is now professor of physics in Paris". As if his date of birth had any logical connection with his present job!

    :thumbsup:
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Could I ask? If I changed Yichen's sentences a bit, would they have same meaning?...
    Well, you haven't actually changed them, have you?

    Being built in 1900, the old bridge still looks new is for me a perfect example of the type of construction to avoid. The bridge is not now being built, it didn't still look new when it was being built, and in brief there seems to be no logical link between the two parts of the sentence.

    Recast as: Although built in 1900, the old bridge still looks new.
    OR: Being built in 1900, the old bridge looks newer than the one that was built in 1650. (i.e. Because it was...)

    If you don't mean either of those, then say: The old bridge, built in 1900, still looks new.
     

    slovac

    Senior Member
    To Keith Bradford: You have written in your profile that you are a translator. Don't you know how the grammar contruction you used is called?
    I mean this one: Being built in 1900, the old bridge looks newer than the one that was built in 1650. (i.e. Because it was...)

    Thank you.
     

    Yichen

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Hi, slovac.

    "Don't you know..." sounds strange to me on this occasion.

    Participles can have lots of functions. The "Being built in 1900" part functions as an adverbial clause of reason, though it is in fact an adverbial phrase of reason.


     

    mink-shin

    Senior Member
    Korean - Korea, Republic of
    Being English, I don't know how to say this in Chinese, but being intelligent you will surely understand.
    Hi, could I ask something about that bold phrase?
    Which meaning does being intelligent have, 'Because I am intelligent' or 'Because you're intelligent'? Or Neither is correct?
    Considering the context, I guess it would be the latter one. But considering the grammar I've learnt, it could be the former one.
    Is it optional to use comma between being clause and main clause?
    Thank you.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi, could I ask something about that bold phrase?
    Which meaning does being intelligent have, 'Because I am intelligent' or 'Because you're intelligent'? Or Neither is correct?
    Considering the context, I guess it would be the latter one. But considering the grammar I've learnt, it could be the former one.
    Is it optional to use comma between being clause and main clause?
    Thank you.
    The phrase most naturally refers to the subject of the sentence, so it's because you're intelligent.
     

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    The general rule is that the "being..." phrase refers to the subject of the main clause, as:
    Being English, I don't know how to say this in Chinese, but being intelligent you will surely understand.

    This is another reason to be very wary of this construction: it's all too easy to let the subject drift, as:
    Being born in 1564, Shakespeare's father was a glover.:cross: No, it's Shakespeare who was born in 1564, not his father!
    Being born in 1564, Shakespeare was the son of a glover. :tick: Though I'd still prefer to omit the word being and rephrase as in #7.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top