IELTS Grammar: the use of ‘have been’, ‘has been’, ‘had been’ with examples, explanations and bonus tips

IELTS Grammar: the use of ‘have been’, ‘has been’, ‘had been’ with examples, explanations and bonus tips

In the IELTS test, grammar plays a very important role and none can deny that. Candidates need to learn the basic grammar of English and get rid of the confusions of close grammatical structures, their differences and uses. In this post we are dealing with the differences with the structures, differences and uses of ‘have been’, ‘has been’ and ‘had been’ with examples and explanations. You will also find a bonus tip at the end of this blog post.

Most learners of Basic English Grammar have this confusion when studying English grammar that ‘have been’ and ‘has been’ are used in Present Perfect Tense while ‘had been’ is used in Past Perfect Tense. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as these verb-phrases have their use in Present Progressive/Continuous Tense or Present Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense and Past Progressive/Continuous Tense or Past Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense. Let’s have a look at them one by one.

Use of ‘have been’ and ‘has been’ in Present Perfect Tense:

The structure of Present Perfect Tense is as follows:

Sub + have/has + ‘been’ + extension

Liza and Maha have been to Thailand.

  • have been is used with Plural noun(s)

The sentence means that Liza and Maha have gone to Thailand in the past and it is still relevant to this day.

Or,

Daniel has been to Cox’s Bazar, the longest sea beach in the world, in Bangladesh just for a couple of days.

  • has been is used with Singular noun

The sentence means that Daniel has recently gone to Cox’s Bazar Sea Beach.

Here, the word ‘been’ is used as a principal verb / main verb. It means ‘gone’ just like the ‘past participle’ of the verb ‘go’.

It is not used here as the past participle of the group of auxiliary/helping verb ‘be’ (am, is, are, was, were).

When we use ‘have been’ and ‘has been’ in Present Perfect Tense, the verb phrases mean ‘have/has gone’ to some place recently. Here, ‘have gone’ or ‘has gone’ is not used because of being backdated English.

Use of ‘had been’ in Past Perfect Tense:

It’s the same use like in ‘Present Perfect Tense’; the difference is in the time-frame and that the particular action happened before some other action happened. It may also mean that the particular action happened and it was still going on when the other action still occurred.

The structure of Present Perfect Tense is as follows:

Sub + had + ‘been’ + extension

Let’s look at this example sentence:

In 2000, Jerry’s father had been to top performing officer in The Academy for some years.

The sentence suggests that Jerry’s father was the top performing officer in The Academy prior to 2000 and was still the top performing officer. But we are not sure what happened after that.

Here, the verb phrase ‘had been’ is used to mean ‘was’.

Another example:

Johnny had been to the place quite a number of times before Peter was.

The sentence suggests that Johnny’s action of being there occurred before Peter’s being in the same place.

Here, the verb phrase ‘had been’ is used to mean ‘went’.

Another example for this:

“I was in Buenos Aires in 2012, and I had been there before, in 1999.”

Use of ‘have been’ and ‘has been’ in Present Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense:

The structure of Present Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense is as follows:

Sub + have/has + ‘been’ + (main verb + ing) + [since + fixed time / for + non-fixed time] + extension

Look at the example:

Rachel has been mocking her teacher ever since he left the room.

The sentence suggests that Rachel started mocking her teacher sometime in the past, when the teacher left the room and she’s continuing to mock him right now. But we are not sure whether she will continue doing so in the coming future.

Another example of the same usage:

Dr. Ajmal Hussain and Dr. Lisa Parker have been teaching the new graduate scientists for 7 years.

Note: The given examples indicate that the actions started in the past and it is continued in the present time.

Use of ‘had been’ in Past Perfect Progressive/Continuous Tense:

Sub + had + ‘been’ + (main verb + ing) + extension

Take a look at the following example:

Shannon had been living in Paris until she moved out in 2009.

The sentence suggests that Shannon’s living in Paris happened at a point of time in the past and it continued to a particular point in the time in the past.

Another example:

Rohan had been studying Spanish for 4 months before he went to Barcelona.

The sentence suggests that Rohan started studying Spanish. And 4 months later he went to Barcelona.

Here is a bonus tip for your IELTS Writing Task 1:

If you study this image carefully, you will learn whether you should use the Past Perfect Tense in your IELTS Writing Task 1.

IELTS Grammar: the use of ‘have been’, ‘has been’, ‘had been’ with examples, explanations and bonus tips

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Get the best English Grammar books for self-study from the following links:

Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy

Advanced Grammar in Use by Martin Hewings

Practice Makes Perfect: Advanced English Grammar for ESL Learners

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