"I have never been dating."

I heard some non-native speaker said it. For me it should be just Present Perfect ("I have never dated.") Because my grammar book says that an absence of some action in the past up to now calls for Present Perfect. And "I have never done it" sounds better to me, more succint. I have no idea how it differs from "I have never been doing it."

I did search in Google, surprisingly, the continuous aspect ("been doing") is 35 times more popular.

  • 1
    Can you give a link explaining how you came to write that final sentence? I assure you that in the context of the usage you're asking about, your conclusion is totally incorrect. Forms like I have never been dating or I have never been cooking, for example, are very unusual. What you will find are forms like I have never been swimming and I have never been paintballing, where the sense intended is that you've never been to a place where that activity normally takes place. Jul 15, 2013 at 16:27
  • That doesn't enlighten me at all. Here, for example, is a link showing that never cooked is effectively infinitely more common than never been cooking. Where exactly do you find support for the idea that "continuous aspect is 35 times more popular"? Jul 16, 2013 at 0:12
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    @ Graduate: This is taking up a lot of comment space without getting anywhere. I gave a link to support my statement. I know what you are saying is incorrect - give me a link so I can look at it and explain why you must be misreading something. Jul 16, 2013 at 0:32
  • @FumbleFingers: "I have never dated"--google.ru/…
    – mosceo
    Jul 16, 2013 at 0:35
  • @FumbleFingers: "I have never been dating"--google.ru/… And look at the number of relevant pages
    – mosceo
    Jul 16, 2013 at 0:37

2 Answers 2


To your specific example, there are potential shades of meaning that the original speaker may or may not have intended. As I expect you are aware, to date means to spend time with someone that you have a romantic interest in. To be dating means that you are in a "committed relationship" with your romantic interest: you see each other regularly, you don't date anyone else, and you consider yourselves "a couple".

So it is actually possible that the speaker has dated (i.e. gone on dates with people) but has never been dating (i.e. progressed to the point of having a committed relationship with a particular individual).

  • In principle you could ascribe such a meaning to been dating, based on similar forms such as been backpacking, been paragliding, etc. But in practice I think native speakers would be extremely unlikely to use OP's version, so I don't really think it's a good idea to imply to learners that it's a "valid" usage. Jul 16, 2013 at 16:43
  • ...in which context it's perhaps worth pointing out that Google Books has over 37000 instances of have never watched, but arguably not a single relevant instance of have never been watching Jul 16, 2013 at 16:48

Consider the sentence:

I have been doing it.

It sounds like I am talking about some work which I have been continuously doing. Maybe not continuous in that sense, but still, at least I have done it quite a number of times.

Now consider this sentence:

I have done it.

It sounds like I am referring to some work which I have done just once (or a little more than once).

Your sentences, i.e., I have never done it and I have never been doing it makes the sentences (which I have mentioned) just negative.
So I think the perfect tense and the perfect continuous tense brings out this subtle meaning.

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