1

My question is what does 'being' mean at the first of a sentence?

Here are some examples.

Being rich doesn't mean you are happy.

What does being rich mean?

Being a successful person in life is a big challenge.

What does being successful mean?

Being a doctor doesn't mean you are smart.

What does being a doctor mean?

I appreciate your effort and I am looking forward to the answer.

  • FWIW, I think Being a successful person in life is a big challenge, though possible, sounds odd. Becoming a successful person in life is a big challenge would be better, and Becoming a successful person is a big challenge or Becoming successful in life is a big challenge would be the best, IMHO. – Damkerng T. Jul 17 '15 at 0:13
  • 1
    It might help if you imagine a "deleted" subject (You being rich doesn't mean you are happy). But strictly speaking, I think being in such contexts is a "gerund" (verb acting as noun), so it's structurally the same as I enjoy cycling, or Hang-gliding is dangerous. – FumbleFingers Jul 17 '15 at 0:19
  • 1
    @Damkerng: I have to say I don't think there's anything in the least "odd" about the version you're not keen on. And changing being to becoming could significantly affect the meaning - consider, for example, Being a woman in Yemen isn't very satisfying if one can see how other people live. To be honest, it wouldn't surprise me to discover that the authorities in Yemen don't even permit anyone to "become" a woman (by surgical/hormonal treatment). – FumbleFingers Jul 17 '15 at 0:25
  • @FumbleFingers I understand your comment. Still, I think it sounds odd, or at least ambiguous. I think the ambiguity would become more obvious with a simpler sentence such as Being a senator is not easy. – Damkerng T. Jul 17 '15 at 0:41
  • 1
    @Damkerng: You have the edge on me, since I don't really understand your comment. To my mind, Being president isn't easy is a reference to what it's like if you are president - it implies nothing about any possible difficulties involved in becoming president, just as Becoming president isn't easy implies nothing about how things will be if you do actually achieve that ambition. – FumbleFingers Jul 17 '15 at 0:49
1
  1. Being rich doesn't mean you are happy.

  2. Being a successful person in life is a big challenge.

  3. Being a doctor doesn't mean you are smart.

The sense of "being" at the start of a sentence depends on its context.

In all the sentences being has been used as a gerund. Being rich, being a doctor, and being a successful person are gerund clauses that are subjects of the sentences.

These sentences imply as follows:

  1. If/when you are rich, it doesn't mean you are happy.

  2. If/when you are a doctor, it doesn't mean you are smart.

  3. It is a big challenge to be a successful person in life.

You can also use to-infinitive instead of being, but the use of the to-infinitive isn't so common.

Besides, in the construct of some sentences, being is also used to express a reason or cause as an alternative to because, since, or as. For example:

Being the youngest, Sara is her father's favourite.

  • I think the last usage you mentioned is not limited to verb "to be". ex: studying hard, I passed the exam. – user2136334 Sep 15 '15 at 7:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.