What is the difference in the meaning between the following sentences:

  1. Being beaten by snow, he died.

  2. Beaten by snow, he died.


  1. Being taken to the hospital, he survived.

  2. Taken to the hospital, he survived.

Here are my opinions about them:

When we use Being+past participle as a participle clause, it refers to the reason for the action of the main clause and it replaces 'Because'.

when we use past participle clause as a subordinate clause it also refers to the reason for the action in the main clause. Thus, both(being+p.p and p.p) work the same and their meanings also same in sentences. They convey the same meangs but only their construction is different. I'm not sure,so I'm confused here.

If i understand the usage and meaning of them, my confusion will certainly be eliminated.

  • 1
    What does the English verb to be mean? What form of that verb is the word Being? Oct 9, 2016 at 3:26
  • P.E Dent'being' is present participle of verb 'be'
    – yubraj
    Oct 9, 2016 at 3:36
  • But what does "to be" mean in English? Once you grasp that, you will answer this question yourself. You know what the verb eat means, and you know what eating is. Be and being have the same relationship to each other. Oct 9, 2016 at 3:38
  • @PE Dent I don't know its exact meanings all i think is 'be' is infinitive without to, being is present participle and been is past participle
    – yubraj
    Oct 9, 2016 at 5:50
  • 4
    Be doesn't mean anything most of the time. Most of the time it's used for grammatical reasons.
    – user230
    Oct 9, 2016 at 11:57

2 Answers 2



The two participle clauses you cite are in the passive voice, and being puts them in the present continuous tense. They are continuous passive participle clauses.


Continuous passive:
Being beaten by (the*) snow, he died.

Beaten by (the) snow, he died.

The snow beat him, (and) he died.

One of your opinions about the two sentences is correct: being+past participle is identical in meaning to the past participle alone, and the gerund being can be omitted in both sentences.

Being beaten here is a continuous passive participle. Without being, it is a passive participle. Their meanings are nearly identical, and being can be omitted, but as you suggest, being in the first example emphasizes that he died because the snow beat him. It "tells a story", in a way, of the beating as it progresses. (In the longer and "optional" part of this answer, because is discussed more thoroughly.)

The verb to be is not just a useful and meaningless sound used to form tenses and the passive voice. Be is a "real" verb with a "real" meaning of its own. Being means having place in the objective universe or realm of fact; existing. In your sentence, Being beaten means Existing in the state of "beaten"-ness. Understanding what being really means, and thinking deeply about the verb be in relation to your two sentences, may open up for you an understanding of how the passive voice works in English, and the other ways in which we use the verb.


The verb to be is often taught as a linking verb or auxiliary verb, and it performs those duties very well. However, without knowing what the verb means, it is impossible to truly grasp the sense of many constructions in English which employ be in its various forms—including, I think, its workmanlike service in linking and forming tenses and the passive voice.

In your first example, the verb to be helps to describe the cause of the subject's death:

Being beaten by the snow, he died.

Being beaten is routinely analyzed as a continuous passive participle using the gerund of the verb to be, but with the "meat" of meaning provided by the participle beaten. Analysis might center on that verb's meaning; but the verb be is important here, even though it could be omitted without changing the sense of the sentence:

Beaten by the snow, he died.

What does it mean to "be"?

In most beginning English classes, the verb to be is the first one studied. Because it is the most irregular of verbs, and because of its wide use as a linking verb, the forms of the copula (as it is known to linguists) are memorized early on.

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1913) has this to say about to be:

  1. To exist actually, or in the world of fact; to have existence.

  2. To exist in a certain manner or relation, -- whether as a reality or as a product of thought; to exist as the subject of a certain predicate, that is, as having a certain attribute, or as belonging to a certain sort, or as identical with what is specified, -- a word or words for the predicate being annexed; as, to be happy; to be here; to be large, or strong; to be an animal; to be a hero; to be a nonentity; three and two are five; annihilation is the cessation of existence; that is the man.

  3. To take place; to happen; as, the meeting was on Thursday.

  4. To signify; to represent or symbolize; to answer to.

Many words are used to define this very small one, and rightly so. It is a part of the very "framework" of English (and of all Indo-European languages) and is so entwined in our languages that it has even "disappeared" in some of them: it is "understood" rather than spoken! After all, what is more elementary to language than the expression of existence itself? That is exactly what to be means.

When we say that something is, we are expressing its existence. When we say that something was, we express its existence in the past. The participle phrase Being beaten uses be in the sense of the second definition above: it expresses the state of existing with the attribute of "beaten-ness."

In comments, you were asked to compare the verb to eat and its participle eating with the verb to be and its participle being. Of course anyone knows what it means to eat; and anyone knows what the act of eating is. No matter what language they speak, all humans engage in eating. The same is true of being, and the definition of that word is easy to grasp if you consider that:

Being is to be as Eating is to eat.

Of course, eat is a dynamic verb that describes an action, and be is a stative verb that describes a state or condition, but it is easy to understand that being and eating both express what happens when the action or state described by the verb is undertaken or experienced.

Here we can come back to the part of your question in which you suggest that the participle phrase Being beaten replaces the adverb because. You are nearly correct! It is Being which could be replaced, and we can express the same thought like this:

Because (he was) beaten by the snow, he died.

Yet even here, the verb to be is involved: The adverb because is itself descended from the verb be and the noun cause! As Webster's 1913 Unbridged also tells us in its definition of be:

  • Note: It is joined with certain substantives, and a few adjectives, to form verbs; as, bedew, befriend, benight, besot; belate (to make late); belittle (to make little). It also occurs in certain nouns, adverbs, and prepositions, often with something of the force of the preposition by, or about; as, belief (believe), behalf, bequest (bequeath); because, before, beneath, beside, between. In some words the original force of be is obscured or lost; as, in become, begin, behave, behoove, belong.

In the original form of because, the words be and cause were separate:

For be-cause þat I know þe sorw þat þay haue, ich am com doune to deliuer hem.

(From a sermon composed in the 1400s by an unknown writer and preserved in a manuscript at Worcester Cathedral.)

& þer power was adraw be cause he made þe signe of þe cros...

(from a Middle English Treatise on the Ten Commandments)

And Geoffrey Chaucer in The Merchant's Tale writes:

If Hys Squyors / whiche fat stoodon ther bisyde
Excused hym / by cause of his siknosse

A discussion of the verb to be cannot but end by noting that it is the subject of what some believe to be the most perfect poetry written in English. In 1600 CE, The Bard of Avon put these words in the mouth of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:

Both of your example sentences numbered as 1.) contain clauses in different voices and tenses, which presents problems not addressed by your question. In English, they would at least be written to agree in tense, e.g.:
Being beaten by snow, he dies.
Being taken to the hospital, he survives.

* I have here added the definite article which the questioner omitted in his example.

  • @Mari-LouA An integer is just an integer. My concern and fervent hope is that the OP here learns about the verb be, and that he (and any subsequent learner of English) does not take away from this question the dictum that Be doesn't mean anything most of the time. Most of the time it's used for grammatical reasons. Oct 10, 2016 at 7:09
  • With all due respect, but the OP has not asked about the meaning of "be", but the difference between being beaten and beaten.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 10, 2016 at 7:13
  • 1
    His question presents two examples of participle clauses and says: "My confusion is closely related to the use of 'being+past participle'=being beaten." An understanding of the meaning of the word being is central to his question. The participle "singing" or "skinnydipping" can't be substituted. It's about being, and a true grasp of its meaning will allow him to answer this and similar questions himself. In fact, once he understands be and being, such questions will no longer exist! Oct 10, 2016 at 7:19
  • 1
    Hi everyone, please move extended discussion to chat :) Thank you!
    – WendiKidd
    Oct 16, 2016 at 4:21
  • @P.E Dent please go to chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/32962406#32962406 I have recently put my openion there.just replace me.Thanks
    – yubraj
    Oct 17, 2016 at 5:06


Being beaten by snow, he died

The above has clearly been written by a non native speaker, a learner who is trying to come to grips with a fairly advanced grammatical structure. By itself, without any context, it doesn't make much sense. The clause beaten by snow is not idiomatic, it borders on the paradox. How can "snow" (the substance) beat (physically) a person to death?

It's in the passive voice

If I'm mistaken on the exact terminology, I apologise, but the following answer should illustrate what "being beaten by snow" actually means.

Imagine an evil monster made out of snow, called Snow.
Note the capital letter, this tells us that Snow is someone or something which is alive and has a name.

One day Jon and Snow meet and have a fight. Snow starts by throwing snowballs at Jon, but the monster also has the power to unleash a howling blizzard. Jon can't possibly survive against Snow, the snowballs come thick and fast, they thrash against his legs, chest, head; and in the blizzard, Jon cannot see Snow.

Exhausted, and defeated, Jon's body beaten black and blue by the sheer force of the snowballs, he collapses and dies.

In the OP's examples, the receiver of the action, he, is elided.

Passive Voice

Simple past

Active: Snow beat Jon, and he died. (Snow is the subject, Jon is the object)
Passive: Jon was beaten by Snow, he died. (The subject and the object have switched places) Passive: Beaten by Snow, he died

But we could rewrite it without mentioning the agent, Snow, within a story this would make sense.

Passive: Beaten, defeated, and exhausted, he died.

Present Continuous

Active: Snow is beating Jon, he dies
Passive: Jon is being beaten by Snow, he dies
Passive Being beaten by Snow, he dies.

Past Continuous

Active: Snow was beating Jon, he died
Passive: Jon was being beaten by Snow, he died
Passive: Being beaten by Snow, he died

Basic Rules (English Grammar Online)

When rewriting active sentences in passive voice, note the following:

  1. the object of the active sentence becomes the subject of the passive sentence
  2. the finite form of the verb is changed (to be + past participle)
  3. the subject of the active sentence becomes the object of the passive sentence (or is dropped)
  • Mari, the sentences against which you wrote 'passive' are actually in active voice. In those sentences the matrix clause (or if you prefer the superordinate clause or main clause) is in active voice. The Past-Participle clause (or ed participle clause) which functions as an adjunct here gives out a passive sense; that means the implied subject of these subject-less past participle clause in not the agent within that non-finite clause. Oct 9, 2016 at 16:44
  • Sentences don't have voice, clauses do. To me, Being beaten by snow is a clause in the passive voice. The main clause, "he died," is in the active voice. So @Mari-LouA has only made a labelling error here. If you folks really want to contend over an answer, mine should provide fertile ground! Oct 10, 2016 at 0:19
  • @Mari-LouA Rather than accepting any downvotes, why not just relabel the appropriate clauses as active and passive instead of the sentences? Just my 2 quatloos... Oct 10, 2016 at 1:51
  • "The Basic Rules" is an excerpt taken from a website, whose link is found in Passive Voice highlighted in bold. It is they who write "sentences". I didn't mention the term; however, "active sentences" sounds absolutely fine to me and I don't believe that is the sticking point.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 10, 2016 at 6:54
  • 1
    @yubrajsharma did my answer show you how 'being+past participle' is constructed? Did my answer help you to understand what "beaten by snow, he died" actually means? And the reason why it is an odd, and weird sentence? The same can be said for "Being taken to the hospital, he survived". The structure is confusing, because the meaning is confusing. No one writes like that. Don't invent sophisticated sentences before you have learnt how to swim, you'll only drown. First, learn the basic stuff.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 10, 2016 at 14:48

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