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Had a student who wanted to make this kind of sentence, in the passive voice and it's an ongoing process.

"The airport has been being built"

just sounds wrong to me, but is it? Could say "...has been under contruction" of couse, but is "...been being built" wrong?


It's twisting my melon - any thoughts/ideas appreciated!

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Hello, whoisthisis, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

@whoisthisis posted:

Had a student who wanted to make this kind of sentence, in the passive voice and it's an ongoing process.

"The airport has been being built"

just sounds wrong to me, but is it? Could say "...has been under contruction" of couse, but is "...been being built" wrong?

Though grammatically correct, I don't think "has been being built" works, and this is because of the verb "build."

Although "is being built" is possible to mean "is (currently) under construction," using the present perfect would imply an ongoing process (from some point in the past into the present), and the process of building includes interruptions. We cannot think of anything being built uninterruptedly except, perhaps, a bee hive or an ant hill. Bees and ants are particularly industrious.

Hello, whoisthisis, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

Though grammatically correct, I don't think "has been being built" works, and this is because of the verb "build."

Although "is being built" is possible to mean "is (currently) under construction," using the present perfect would imply an ongoing process (from some point in the past into the present), and the process of building includes interruptions. We cannot think of anything being built uninterruptedly except, perhaps, a bee hive or an ant hill. Bees and ants are particularly industrious.

Almost everything you've written here is incorrect as far as I can tell, but thanks anyway

@whoisthisis posted:

Almost everything you've written here is incorrect as far as I can tell, but thanks anyway

It's not so much the grammar but the semantics of the verb "build" that is involved in the oddness of its being used in the present perfect continuous. Unless you explain why you claim so arrogantly that my response is incorrect, I will not consider it a serious claim that I need to worry about. You came here with a question, I answered it to the best of my knowledge, and your ignorance is now coupled with impoliteness. Your thank-you note and your smiling face are not really convincing.

Hi, I’m sorry about that - I didn’t mean to upset you, which is why I didn’t go through the mistakes. The thank you and smiley face were genuine, I really did appreciate you giving me an answer when no one else did; having said that, I did want to point out that I think what you have said is wrong for anyone else reading it.

The following corrections come with the same caveat as my initial reply: “as far as I can tell,” I've been proven wrong too many times to be 100% sure that I'm right.

is possible to mean can mean

Uninterrupted building: many things are built without interruption – especially infrastructure such as airports. In order for construction to be completed as quickly as possible, building continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Interruptions: present perfect continuous is often used to describe actions which are interrupted. Here it’s less of a continuous process, and more like an ongoing state. e.g.

“I have been reading a lot recently.”

“I have been going to the gym.”

“I have been learning English since I was at school”

Grammar rules may tell you different (I have read… I have gone… I have learned…) but this is the way present perfect continuous is actually used. The rules will catch up eventually, and until they do, the rules are wrong.

Furthermore, there is no specified length of interruption for an action to no longer be considered continuous. Construction workers may all take a break for lunch at the same time. Even if they don’t, there will be several tiny increments of time (for example, billionths of seconds) where by coincidence none of the construction workers are actually engaged in the work of construction (chatting, daydreaming, using the toilet). Unfortunately, language was not designed - but instead evolves organically; it is not scientific, and as we can see, things can get pretty ridiculous when you try to analyse and define grammar scientifically. So, we end up with following the rules of “what sounds right”.

I hope I haven’t upset you even more, and please tell me if I’m wrong!

@whoisthisis posted:

Hi, I’m sorry about that - I didn’t mean to upset you, which is why I didn’t go through the mistakes. The thank you and smiley face were genuine, I really did appreciate you giving me an answer when no one else did; having said that, I did want to point out that I think what you have said is wrong for anyone else reading it.

I accept your apology. This is a grammar forum and we value discussions. Saying that something is not correct is not acceptable unless a valid reason is provided.

@whoisthisis posted:

is possible to mean can mean

You have misread what I wrote:

Although "is being built" is possible to mean "is (currently) under construction," using the present perfect would imply an ongoing process ...

"to mean" above is an infinitival of purpose:

- "is being built" is possible (= can occur) to mean (= to express the meaning) "is (currently) under construction"

I'm well aware about the uses of the present perfect and the present perfect continuous.

Having clarified that, I'm afraid there's nothing else I can add to what I thought was a plausible explanation for "has been under construction" being superior to "has been being built."

It is at least curious that the active seems to work better than the passive (I'm only referring to the verb "build"):

- They have been building the airport for years.
- ? The airport has been being built for years.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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