What is the use of being in below sentence?

Man dies after being hit by truck.

Man dies after hit by truck.


I was surprised to learn that both sentences would look acceptable in a newspaper headline (thanks to Snailboat's comment below), so I remodeled my answer a little:

Man dies after being hit by truck.

The word "being" helps create the Passive Voice:

A truck hit a man. (active voice) -> Man dies after truck hits him. (A newspaper headline)

A man was hit by a truck. (passive voice) -> Man dies after being hit by truck. (A newspaper headline)

Being is the gerund-participial form of was which is used in the creation of Passive Voice constructions.

Note that there is no a before "man" and no a before "truck": that's because it's a sentence written in a "newspaper headline style", or "headlinese".

Man dies after hit by truck. (WRONG in usual style, OKAY in headlinese)

..this sentence is ungrammatical when used in usual writing but is acceptable in "headlinese", where all forms of the verb be are omissible.

Why is it wrong when used in normal writing? The word after demands either some "noun" denoting an event:

Man dies after his birthday.

..or some "full clause" with a subject:

Man dies after [truck hits him].

The word being is a form of verb, but a verb ending in -ing is "closer to noun" in its meaning. Sometimes it's very close, then it's called a gerund, sometimes it's not so close, then it's called present participle. Sometimes it's not easy to distinguish between the two terms, so some people call it the "-ing" form or "gerund-participle".

Since it's "closer to nouns", you can write

Man dies after [being congratulated on his birthday].

but not

Man dies after [congratulated on his birthday]. (WRONG, except in "headlinese")

.. "congratulated" is not an "ing" form: it's clearly a past-tense form of the verb, so we look for some "subject" (who congratulated him?), but find none.

  • 2
    Note that all forms of be are commonly omitted from headlines. – snailplane Feb 9 '15 at 5:26
  • @snailboat - Thanks for the comment! So "Man dies after hit by truck" is okay? Or there's an exception for the gerund-participial in passive constructions? – CowperKettle Feb 9 '15 at 5:28
  • 1
    I'd expect to see "Man hit by truck, dies," myself. – A.Beth Feb 9 '15 at 5:38
  • @snailboat - I did a search and there are indeed instances of being being omitted in headlinese! – CowperKettle Feb 9 '15 at 5:39
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    @A.Beth Nonetheless, people write it the other way. My guess is that they want to move dies, the most important word, earlier in the headline. – snailplane Feb 17 '15 at 9:14

As said by CopperKettle, it's a passive voice thing.

Another reason is: "hit" is ambiguous. It can mean a collision, or it can mean an assassination. The second sentence would be somewhat more naturally read as a man dying after an assassination by truck (presumably the hit-man ran him down in a truck); it would be a slightly awkward reading, but less awkward than the other way.

The correct form -- if you are not writing a newspaper headline -- is "Man dies after being hit by a truck."

If you are writing a newspaper headline, you can do "Man dies after being hit by truck," or "Man dies in collision" ("collision" is almost always a traffic accident, in newspapers, I think), or "Truck causes fatality"...

  • It could also mean 'success', as in the music business. Man dies after hit by alt-rock indie band, 'truck'. Band reported to be making a killing. – Damien H Feb 9 '15 at 6:34
  • 1
    It could also mean "taking a shot of drugs", making the "by" ambiguous as well: "Man dies after truck takes a shot of drugs" or "Man dies after receiving a shot of drugs from a truck". (Not saying any of these make sense!) – Jeroen Feb 9 '15 at 10:08

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