We use the verb had and the past participle for the past perfect and The past perfect continuous is formed with had been and the -ing form of the verb:

  1. When Mel died he and Jenifer had been married for nearly thirty years.
  2. He didn’t want to move. He had lived in Seattle all her life.

In sentence 1, had+married, past participle for marry, why is been here and what does it mean by placing here?

In sentence 2, had+lived past participle : why is been not used here?

I mean to ask, why do we sometimes use had been and have been excluding the past perfect and present perfect continuous sentences in a sentence, what does it mean?


1 Answer 1


Married is the past participle of marry; but in sentence 1 it is actually employed not as a verb but as an adjective, the predicative complement of BE.

They had been married for thirty years has the same structure as
They had been happy for thirty years.

The verb group in both of these sentences is had been: had + the pa·ppl of BE.

However, you will also find constructions in the form had been VERBpa·ppl where VERB really is a verb; the construction is the past perfect passive:

John was depressed because he had been fired.

This uses the pa·ppl of BE as the complement of the perfect auxiliary HAVE, and the pa·ppl of fire as the complement of the passive auxiliary BE.

  • Thank you for answering. I have a doubt. He didn’t want to move. He had lived in Seattle all his life. Can we place been in between had and lived. Do we use Have/has+been or Had+been in only passive sentence or other types of sentences also? What is the difference between had fired and had been fired.
    – asr09
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 14:32
  • @asr09 Apparently you have not yet learned about the passive voice, in which an object of an active transitive verb is cast as the subject of a the same verb in the passive. The passive is formed with a form of BE + the pa·ppl of the verb. For instance: in simple present, an active sentence like John fires George becomes passive George is fired (by John). In past perfect John had fired George becomes George had been fired (by John). Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 14:59

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