"These have been being generated by them in large quantities."

Is this wrong to say? I want to write this one 'They have been generating these in large quantities'. One example that I have found in peter Simon's book is that " The pictures are believed to have been being painted long times; Thus, I made it.

  • Probably irrelevant to your question, but in "The pictures are believed to have been being painted long times", "long times" is bad grammar. It's unclear the intent, but maybe it should say, "a lot time ago" or "over a long time period".
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 16:26
  • Does this answer your question?
    – gotube
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 16:30
  • It's fine. Compare the active They have been watching us and the passive We have been being watched. There's no other way to say it; We have been watched doesn't mean the same thing. Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 21:37

3 Answers 3


It is grammatical, and fully understandable, but few people would say it.

If there was a reason to put it in the passive, I would probably not use the continuous form, but say These have been generated by them in large quantities, adding over a period or over recent months if it was necessary to draw attention to the continuing nature. For most purposes I'd put it actively, and then the continuous if required.

  • I looked for been being ***-ed in the iWeb corpus and got only 213 instances.
    – Colin Fine
    Commented Dec 2, 2022 at 14:12

It's technically correct, but English speakers find the structure "have been being (done)" so awkward that we almost always find a way to reword the sentence to avoid this structure.

The only exceptions are unprofessional and unprepared speaking or writing.

I've answered a similar question in some detail here.


It's OK, though a little awkward. Possibly you are reacting to the passive voice.

Your rewrite is also OK, and probably easier to understand.

Probably you would decide the particular form by whether you were writing in passive or active voice for the rest of the item.

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