What is the difference between “have been, has been and had been”?
Remember the best way to be learning grammar is using it! When you make practice, you will able to develop better understanding the use of each grammatical structure and apply this to your everyday life when you are speaking or writing in English.
Usage of “Have Been & Has Been”
‘Has been’ and ‘have been’ suggest an action that started in the past, but continues in the present.
When we are talking about the present:
If the subject of a sentence is I – You – We – They or a plural noun (cars, birds, children) we use ‘have been‘.
☛A total of five cars have been stolen from the city center.
☛Birds have been following me all day long.
☛Children have been playing since morning. (still playing)
If the subject of the sentence is He – She – It or a singular noun (car, bird, child) we use ‘has been‘.
☛My car has been stolen from the city center.
☛This bird has been following me all day long.
☛A child has been playing since morning.
Usage of “Had Been”
When we are talking about the past: for any subject (I, You, He, She,It, We, They) we use ‘had been‘.
“Had been,”, suggests an action that both began and ended in the past.
We use the past perfect continuous to indicate that something started in the past and continued up until another time in the past.
To show time reference “for” and “since” are used and it describes when the action started and how long it continued in the past.
“For ten minutes”, “for five weeks”, “for two months” are durations which can be used with the past perfect continuous.
☛I had been reading articles on English language for three hours.
☛How long had you been studying English before you moved to London?
☛I had been shopping with my wife in the market since morning.
☛She had been shopping in that bazaar before you came home.
☛Children had been playing baseball in that field before it started to rain. (not anymore)
Difference between ‘Have been’ – ‘Had been’
Present perfect ‘have/has been ‘ is used when describing an action completed in the recent past and still assumes importance in the present.
We use ‘had been’ when you describe something that happened in the past before something else in the past. Also an action that had happened in the past and does not reflect any continuation to the present time.
Example: By 500 AD, the Roman Empire had been defeated.