Grammar Have Been vs. Has Been vs. Had Been: How to Use Each One Correctly |
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Have Been vs. Has Been vs. Had Been: How to Use Each One Correctly

The verb phrases have been, has been, and had been all have closely related meanings. That similarity may at times lead to confusion about the right time to use each construction.

In today’s review we will discuss the differences among the phrases so you can use each one correctly when you are speaking or writing.

When and How to Use Have Been or Has Been

Have been and has been are verb constructions that are used in the present perfect tense and the present perfect progressive tense.

The present perfect tense identifies an action or a state that took place at an unspecified time in the past. The present perfect progressive expresses an ongoing activity that started in the past and continues into the present.

Examples

I have been to that city. (present perfect)

Shane has not been working on the tractor of late. (present perfect progressive)

We would use have been when the sentence subject is I, you, we, or the third person plural (the children have been studying grammar all morning; they have been studying all morning).

If the sentence subject is a third-person singular noun (he, she, it, Courtney), we would use the phrase has been.

Examples

Courtney has been a team leader before. (present perfect)

It has been drifting through my mind lately. (present perfect progressive)

As you can see, have been and has been have the same related usage and meaning. The main difference between them is the form that is determined by the subject performing the action.

When and How to Use Had Been

Had been is similar to have been and has been, except that it identifies actions that both began and ended in the past. It is used in the past perfect and past perfect progressive tenses. Where have been and has been suggest a past point in time that remains open and unfinished, had been indicates something that is closed and completed.

Examples

Until Roger became manager, the repair records had been vague at best. (past perfect)

I had been feeling sad before my parents gave me a puppy. (past perfect progressive)

In these examples, the verb refers to something that both started and ended in the past.

Pop Quiz

Fill in each blank with the proper use of have been, has been, or had been according to the tense given.

1. Nicole _____ working hard these days to improve her grades at school. (present perfect progressive)

2. We _____ dreaming about this day for months. (present perfect progressive)

3. The team _____ on a three-game losing streak before tonight’s win. (past perfect)

4. I don’t know anyone else who _____ to the new theater production yet. (present perfect)

5. I _____ thinking a lot about my future lately. (present perfect progressive)

 

Pop Quiz Answers

1. Nicole has been working hard to improve her grades at school.

2. We have been dreaming about this day for months.

3. The team had been on a three-game losing streak before tonight’s win.

4. I don’t know anyone else who has been to the new theater production yet.

5. I have been thinking a lot about my future lately.

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