Confusing Words: Be, Being, or Been?


600+ Confusing English Words Explained E-Book


Be is the base form of the verb. Use be after “to.” Here are some verbs in English that are often followed by “to”:

  • hope
    I hope to be as wise as my father someday.
  • learn
    She’s learning to be less concerned about other peoples’ opinions.
  • need
    You need to be ready to leave by 6:30.
  • plan
    We’re planning to be in London from the 18th to the 23rd.
  • pretend
    My kids are pretending to be superheroes.
  • promise
    I promise to be on time for the meeting.
  • try
    He said he’d try to be more patient.
  • want
    I want to be fluent in English.
  • would like
    I’d like to be a pilot – it seems like an exciting job.

Also use be after should, could, and would:

  • You should be ashamed.
  • This could be interesting.
  • would be happy to help.


Being is the continuous form of the verb. You can use it after:

  • am / is / are
    (present continuous)
  • was / were
    (past continuous)


  • We can’t access the internet right now because the network is being restarted.
  • When I said that dress doesn’t look good on you, I was just being honest.

You can also use being after these verbs:

  • avoid
  • enjoy
  • can’t stand
  • don’t mind
  • look forward to
  • practice
  • spend time
  • stop


  • Stop being lazy and help me wash the dishes.
  • I enjoy being in a position of leadership.
  • She can’t stand being lied to.

Always use being (not be or been) after prepositions:

  • I was in the hospital for a month after being in a car accident.
  • That’s the problem with being late all the time – people stop trusting you.
  • The best part of being a teacher is interacting with the students.
  • She got an award for being the best salesperson in the company.


Been is the past participle. Use it after the verbs have/has (present perfect) and had (past perfect).


  • I’ve been busy lately.
  • Have you ever been to London?
  • My car has been stolen.
  • By the time he showed up, we‘d been waiting for an hour.

Use been after could have, should have, and would have:

  • You should have been on time for your job interview.
  • The presentation would have been better if we’d done more preparation.
  • He could have been injured badly when he fell off his motorcycle; he was lucky he didn’t get hurt.

Clear up your doubts about confusing words… and use English more confidently!

600+ Confusing English Words Explained

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