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The apples will have been being eaten by him.

This sentence above was offered in my English class as an example of the future perfect continuous tense. This seems to me too awkward to be correct. Сould you explain the meaning of this sentence, if in fact, it is correct?

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  • This structure is almost never used by native English speakers. It is found mainly in grammar books. On the other hand, it's formed using the regular process of constructing tenses, it's quite clear what it means, and I suspect most native English speakers may consider it awkward, but don't consider it wrong. – Peter Shor Oct 26 '16 at 13:05
  • I'm with Peter. Please ask yourself exactly why that seemed awkward. Since you're in a class, ask your teacher to take you through all the forms of "eat" starting with "he eats…" – Robbie Goodwin Nov 11 '16 at 0:35
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The future perfect continuous is actually

He will have been eating the apples.

Your sentence

The apples will have been being eaten by him.

makes the sentence a passive construction: the future perfect continuous passive. You can also say 'progressive' instead of 'continuous'. This uses

will - modal
have - perfect
been - continuous or progressive
being - passive
eaten - main verb

This is grammatical, but rarely used–even in writing. The chances of someone saying it are infinitesimal. Your teacher probably demonstrated this construction because it demonstrates all the possible "characteristics" a verb might take on, including a modal.

This is a passive construction due to being. The subject apples is being acted upon by the agent him.

A sentence more likely to be encountered in authentic English does include the progressive. This is the future perfect passive:

The apples will have been eaten by him.

as in

The apples will have been eaten by him by the time we get home.

The use of the progressive (or continuous) being stretches put the action so that it has duration and can be represented by ~~~~~~~~, but the use of the progressive in combination with the future perfect passive is rare. Few people, beyond linguistic professors, are ever going to need to express

The apples will have been being eaten by him by the time we get home.

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One confusion is that this sentence is not necessarily in the future. It is as likely that the modal 'will' implies speculation rather than future time. Let me give you an example:

A man is discovered dead, surrounded by apples. 'Ahh', we say, 'the apples will have been being eaten by him.'

Speculation about what was happening when he died, not a future tense.

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The sentence is correct although rarely used in English. I am guessing you are confused because it is passive future continuous perfective tense. The verbs are:

  • will - modal auxiliary,
  • have - perfective auxiliary,
  • been - progressive auxiliary,
  • being - passive auxiliary,
  • eaten - past participle of the main verb, eat.

In the active voice the sentence would be:

He will have been eating the apples.

  • 1
    @WS2 Um, no. He will have been eating the apples. – StoneyB Oct 26 '16 at 10:18
  • @StoneyB See comment below my deleted answer. – WS2 Oct 26 '16 at 12:10
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It is a good sentence. You may construct passive sentences for

  1. present perfect continuous
  2. past perfect continuous
  3. future continuous
  4. future perfect continuous

like

  1. The apples have been being eaten by him.
  2. The apples had been being eaten by him.
  3. The apples will be being eaten by him.
  4. The apples will have been being eaten by him.

Nothing wrong in it.

Note:

a normal person will not use any of these sentences at least once in a life. so, it is considered to be not needed one. But, those are very much needed statements/sentences for the people from investigating department and practical scientists (time of experiments)........

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