2
  • The company is being taxed
  • The company has been taxed
  • The company has been being taxed

These are three examples listed in a book on syntax.

In the first one, the book suggests that "is" is the progressive auxiliary and "being" is the passive auxiliary.

In the second one, the book suggests that "has" is perfective and "been" is passive.

In the third example, the book suggests that "has" is the perfective, "been" is the progressive and "being" is the passive.

Firstly, I was wondering how does one define what the passive auxiliary actually is? I understand how one forms the passive tense, but I'm unsure what a passive auxiliary actually is.

Secondly, It seems odd to me that in the third example, "been" is noted as the progressive auxiliary, whereas in the second example the word "been" is defined as being the passive auxiliary.

If anyone could clear these issues up for me I would be extremely grateful.

Thank you.

  • 1
    If your book says "has been being taxed" is a reasonable example of grammatical English, then get a new book. I suppose it's possible to construct a sentence where it might be valid, but the sentence would be awkward and unnatural. Also, is there a reason you need to know the exact names of these parts of speech? Because, for the most part, this will not help you speak better English. Unless you're a professional linguist, knowing this kind of detail is only useful on university exams. – Andrew Aug 31 at 20:54
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    I concur with @Andrew. I would mark the third example as incorrect English. I have studied English grammar as a native speaker, and do not recall ever encountering the terms "perfective" or "progressive auxiliary". Your questions might well be answerable, but... English is difficult to learn because of all its weirdness. Your book seems to be making it even MORE difficult to learn. I agree with Andrew, find a better book! (Welcome to English Language Learners. We ARE here to help!) – Edward Barnard Aug 31 at 21:45
  • I would expect to see: grammar book. – Lambie Sep 13 at 16:26
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    The third is not incorrect at all. It is just not very frequent. "He's been being hassled by the authorities recently". I say grammar book, by the way. "Being sued is not fun. We have been being sued repeatedly by those creeps." – Lambie Sep 13 at 16:32
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Firstly, I was wondering how does one define what the passive auxiliary actually is

It's always going to be {form of be} + {past participle}.

The form of be can be is, being, or been. If a past participle follows, it's part of a passive voice expression.

I understand how one forms the passive tense

Passive voice is not a tense. You can have past (the ball was thrown), present (the ball is thrown), future passive voice (the ball will be thrown).

but I'm unsure what a passive auxiliary actually is.

A passive auxillary will be the first word in the phrase {form of be} + {past participle}.

A progressive auxillary will be the first word in the phrase {form of be} + {present participle}.

The company has been being taxed

Be can be expressed passively or progressively/continuously like any other verb. So you might have two forms of be next to each other but it's the first one that determines passive or progressive.

And it's possible for passive or progressive be to be perfect as well.

I am being taken for a fool.

I had been being taken for a fool until I had found out his master plan.

Being been is invalid.

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