Category: English Verbs|July 11, 2013 6:15 am

The Present Perfect-Progressive Passive of English Verbs

As one of the two grammatical voices in the English language, the passive allows an object of a sentence in the active voice to move into the subject position of a passive sentence. The present perfect-progressive passive is an English verb form that refers to verbs in the present tense, perfect-progressive aspect, indicative mood, and passive voice.

Formation of the Present Perfect-Progressive Passive

Like most other verb forms in English, the present perfect-progressive passive is periphrastic, a term which means a “phrase of two or more words that perform a single grammatical function that would otherwise be expressed by the inflection of a single word.” Verbs in the present perfect-progressive passive are formed by the present tense form of the verb have plus the past participle been and the present participle being followed by a past participle (regular or irregular). Note that, as with other passive constructions, only transitive verbs (verbs that can take objects) and verbs with verb phrase complements may be conjugated into the passive voice. The verb phrase patterns for the present perfect-progressive passive are as follows:

  • first person singular – have + been + being + past participle – I have been being treated like dirt.
  • second person singular – have + been + being + past participle – You have been being counted twice.
  • third person singular – has + been + being + past participle – The package have been being delivered late.
  • first person plural – have + been + being + past participle – We have been being given bad advice.
  • second person plural – have + been + being + past participle – You have been being controlled by your parents.
  • third person plural – have + been + being + past participle – The prototypes have been being developed in the lab.

As with other passive constructions, some Englishes also allow for the present participle getting to replace the present participle being in the present perfect-progressive passive. The verb phrase patterns for the simple present passive with the auxiliary verb get are as follows:

  • first person singular – have + been + getting + past participle – I have been getting stung by bees.
  • second person singular – have + been + getting + past participle – You have been getting attacked by the media.
  • third person singular – has + been + getting + past participle – Money has been getting collected by the organization.
  • first person plural – have + been + getting + past participle – We have been getting denied pay increases.
  • second person plural – have + been + getting + past participle – You have been getting visited by potential students.
  • third person plural – have + been + getting + past participle – Apples have been getting stolen from my trees.

As with the present perfect-progressive, the present tense of the verb have is regular in all persons and numbers except for the third person singular.

Uses of the Present Perfect-Progressive Passive

Like the present perfect-progressive in the active voice, the present perfect-progressive passive expresses and emphasizes the consequences resulting from a previous but incomplete action or state that began in the past and continues into the present but may or may not continue into the future. Also like the present perfect-progressive active, the present perfect-progressive passive occurs most often in sentences that express actions that occurred recently and actions that continue up to the present. For example:

  • I have been being yelled at all morning.
  • The toys have been being broken by the children.
  • The pamphlets have been being printed since last night.
  • Too much pollution has been being dumped in the river.

The main grammatical and semantic difference between the present perfect-progressive in the active voice and the present perfect-progressive in the passive voice is that the present perfect-progressive passive allows for an object of an active sentence to move into the subject position. For example, the use of the active voice in Thieves have been stealing luggage means that the subject is the noun phrase Thieves and the direct object is the noun phrase luggage. By changing the same sentence into the passive voice — Luggage has been being stolen by thieves — the original direct object luggage moves into the subject position. With the use of the passive voice, a speaker can emphasize the object from an active sentence and/or de-emphasize the subject from an active sentence.

The following visual illustrates the uses of the perfect-progressive aspects of English verbs:

Perfect-Progressive Progressive of English Verbs

The present perfect-progressive passive expresses incomplete or ongoing actions or states with present implications that began in the past and that may or may not continue into the future while moving an object from an active sentence into the subject position.

References

Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Kilby, David. 1984. Descriptive syntax and the English verb. Dover, New Hampshire: Croom Helm.
Leech, Geoffrey N. 2004. Meaning and the English verb. Harlow, English: Pearson Longman.


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