Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Have Been And Had Been

  • “Have been” is a verb used to form the present perfect tense, and when followed by a present participle (such as “running”, “walking”, “doing” etc.), the present perfect continuous tense. This means that an action is going on continuously and has not been completed at this moment. “I have been going to church regularly” indicates that I have gone regularly to church and continue to go regularly to church. It can also express a fact, the truth of which does not change in the present. “I have been to Canada” implies that sometime in the past I went to Canada and this fact is still true today. Here “have been” is used in the perfect tense.

Conjugation of the verb “to have” is as below.

I have beenYou have beenWe have been

They have been

People have been

He has beenShe has beenIt has been

Maria has been

One has been

Below are examples of using “have been” and “has been” in a sentence.

  • I have been trying to reach you all day. (The fact has not changed at the time of speaking).
  • You have been neglecting your children. (You have not stopped neglecting your children).
  • We have been married for twenty-five years. (The fact has not changed in the present).
  • They have been divorced for several years. (The fact has not changed in the present).
  • People have been agitating for better roads. (People have not ended the agitation).
  • He has been looking for a bride. (He continues to look for a bride we assume, since we have no confirmation that he has stopped).
  • She has been punished for not doing her homework. (She continues to be punished).
  • It has been a wonderful day. (The fact has not changed in the present).
  • Maria has been very worried. (Maria continues to be worried).
  • Someone has been meaning to tell you a secret. (Someone continues to mean to tell you a secret).

In each of the above examples, the action was started in the past but is still going on right now or is still true today.

“Had been” basically follows similar parameters, but for the past perfect continuous tense instead of present perfect. In this case, “had” doesn’t change depending on the subject (whether it is singular or plural) – it’s just always “had.” “He had been in my thoughts for a long time.”   The action here was in the past and seems to have ended in the present.

More examples:

  • I had been expecting you to come last week. (The expectation is no longer there now since last week is completed).
  • He had once been arrested for drunk driving. (He was arrested in the past).
  • They had been friends once but they quarrelled. (They are no longer friends).
  • We had tried to sell our car but nobody would buy it. (We are no longer trying to sell our car).
  • He had been a great support to his mother while she was alive. (Since the mother is no longer alive, the support has ceased).
  • People had been expecting a great deal from the new Prime Minister, but he has proved to be a disappointment. (People have stopped expecting …)
  • Pompeii had been a thriving city till it was destroyed by a volcano. (It is no longer a thriving city).
  • Bill had been married to Celia for ten years before they got divorced. (Bill and Celia are no longer married).
  • It had been a great holiday until we had the accident. (The holiday ceased being “great” after the accident).
  • Michael had been my best friend until he got married. (Michael stopped being my best friend).

“Had been” can also convey a wish when the sentence starts with “if”. Such sentences are only wishful thinking and are neither true in the present moment nor in the past.

  • If I had been there, I would have done things differently.
  • If you had been co-operative, we would have been partners.
  • If the doctor had been there, John would not have died.In conclusion examine the two sentences below:
    I have been afraid of geckos since childhood.
    I had been afraid of geckos in my childhood.
    The first sentence suggests that I am still afraid of geckos.
    The second sentence suggests that I am no longer afraid of geckos and the fear was in the past.

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1 Comment

  1. thanks a lot!

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[0]Wren and Martin English Grammar

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