How is it grammatical to say "for the time being"? Shouldn't we say "for the being time"? "Being" is an adjective (a participle of the verb "to be", and participles are adjectives), and adjectives go before the noun they modify (in this case, "time").

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    Idioms don't always use usual modern grammar.
    – Showsni
    Sep 24, 2023 at 15:23
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    Remaining is more obviously an "adjective" in for the time remaining / for the remaining time As that chart shows, the former case ("adjective before noun") is more common - but there are many written instances of the latter, so there's not much of a "rule" involved. In any case, as @Showsni says, idioms don't necessarily standard syntax. Sep 24, 2023 at 16:37
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    See Origins of the phrase "for the time being" as asked on ELL some years ago. We can't vote to migrate questions from ELL to ELU, but arguably that's where the current question belongs, too. Sep 24, 2023 at 16:39
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    being can be a clausal post-modifier. You'd have to take that matter to the judge presiding. Sep 24, 2023 at 21:26
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    @FlatAssembler "Doug saw fish. He watched them swimming. He counted 5 fish swimming in the koi pond." Compare this to "Doug saw tropical fish. He spotted 3 tropical fish in the aquarium." Here, swimming can either pre- or postmodify the noun ("swimming fish" and "fish swimming" can both be correct), while tropical can only premodify, not postmodify (so, "tropical fish" but not "fish tropical"). This is a distinction that may be relevant to your question - ordinary adjectives almost never postmodify nouns, but non-finite verb forms used as adjectives can and often do. Sep 24, 2023 at 22:40

1 Answer 1


For the time being is an idiom. Idioms don't always have a regular syntax.

An idiom is a combination of words whose meaning is not predictable from the meanings of its parts. It’s a L E X I C A L concept, not a grammatical one..

-ASIEG second edition

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