"You could being controlled without your knowledge" is a well-formed sentence?


While answering a question on ux.stackexchange I find myself in the need of expressing something like this, but I'm not sure if this is even a well-formed sentence because it sounds so wrong in my head:

You could just being rickRolled without even liking the song!

I want to illustrate the precise situation when the rickRolling is happening, so in that instant "you could just being RickRolled".

Is it alright to say it like that or what's the correct form to express the same?

Alejandro Veltri

Posted 2015-09-03T13:59:44.430

Reputation: 859

1@Araucaria Thanks, I edited it. For some reason I always think "acknowledgment" as "being aware of". – Alejandro Veltri – 2015-09-03T15:19:01.613



Could (or any other modal) requires an infinitive complement

You could be {controlled / rickrolled}

and the progressive passive requires two BEs:

You are being controlled

or BE + GET:

You are getting rickrolled

So the modal progressive passive is

You could be being controlled
You could be getting rickrolled

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2015-09-03T13:59:44.430

Reputation: 176 469

5Wow. For me this is like "Congratulations rewobs! You have just unlocked a new verb tense!". Perfect explanation. Thanks. – Alejandro Veltri – 2015-09-03T15:24:26.637

2@rewobs You're only a couple hundred years late! Passive progressive didn't exist in Engish until about 1800, when it suddenly sprang up out of nowhere (or possibly out of Bristol). It appalled many grammarians at the time. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2015-09-03T15:27:07.513

Haha good to know! Thanks for the enlightenment. It's the first time the need of using this appears in my head, I hope it's a sign of my expressiveness trying to expand :P. – Alejandro Veltri – 2015-09-03T15:35:31.053


If you don't like the awkward sound of the technically correct progressive passive be being as StoneyB's fine answer offers, then consider a slight rewording of the sentence in your question title:

You could be under someone else's control without your knowledge.

This retains the meaning you're trying to convey, without the awkwardness that apparently appalled so many grammarians when the progressive passive tense came around.

Of course, it doesn't work for your "rickrolled" example, but the preferred verb for that phrase is get, which sounds a lot less awkward than the repeated "be be".


Posted 2015-09-03T13:59:44.430

Reputation: 897