4

Could you explain to me the difference in meaning between the following sentences?

1) Asked whether the discussion had brought agreement nearer, he said that every useful conversation was a step forward.

2) Being asked whether the discussion had brought agreement nearer, he said that every useful conversation was a step forward.

Does 1 mean that he was asked only once while 2 means that he was asked repetitively? Do you agree that "Asked whether the discussion ..." = "When asked whether the discussion ..."

3) Written in pencil, the article was difficult to read.

4) Being written in pencil, the article was difficult to read.

If I can make a conclusion about "one-off action versus a series of actions" in the first two examples then I can't see how a letter can be written by means of series of actions. What's the difference between 3 and 4?

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In your question, sentence 1) is the right construction.

Yes "Asked whether the discussion ..." = "When asked whether the discussion ..."

In the case of sentence 2) I would advice against using 'being', starting the sentence with 'being' is not wrong but it is lousy. 'Being' is used to denote a state. It can also be used to start a sentence when the sentence is in passive voice and the passive verb is the subject of the sentence, for example : being chased by a dog, he jumped over the high fence.

Sentence 2) does not necessarily mean that he was asked repetitively , please do not confuse the usage of the word 'being' as used to denote repetition. As I mentioned above 'being' denotes a state, like human being - (novice translation) human state , it does not imply any repetition.

About the difference between 3) and 4) , they are both correct, it is similar to the example I provided above, but removing 'Being' from sentence 4) does not make the slightest difference in the meaning. Again, please do not associate the meaning of 'Being' with 'A series of actions' or 'repetition' rather, 'Being' denotes a 'state' let me give you a few examples (pardon me if you could find the same examples elsewhere on the internet. No plagiarism intended) :-

  • Being Indian,I have to get a visa for every country I decide to visit.
  • Being Blind, I am happy I don't have to see the horrors of the world.

In all the above sentences 'being' indicates state, it does not mean a series of actions or repetition.

If I can make a conclusion about "one-off action versus a series of actions" in the first two examples

The conclusion you have to make is not about "one-off action vs series of action ", as long as it concerns the use of 'being' your conclusion should be about "Active and Passive voices".

I found a very interesting and similar discussion in this forum I am certain it will help you understand when not to use 'being'.

  • Thanks a lot. One thing to point out. In these sentences Being stressed always... Being a novice does... you use the gerund not the participle. So they can't illustrate the intended point. But I like the rest of your answer. – user1425 Mar 5 '14 at 11:28
  • Got it, will edit it out, I am a non-native speaker of english, so I know stuff from practice but I am not always very accurate when it comes to grammatical terms, either way I will edit it out, thanks for the heads up. – NANDAGOPAL Mar 5 '14 at 11:31
  • In The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, both -ing forms are considered the same thing. They call it the gerund-participle. So at least some linguists consider the distinction unimportant (although you are free to continue making the distinction, if you like). – snailboat Mar 5 '14 at 12:27
  • 1) Reading is great. - gerund 2) I saw him reading - participle. They are not the same no matter what someone says (in this case) – user1425 Mar 5 '14 at 13:10

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