"Had" vs. "had been"



  • He had remained president for 20 years and he had done nothing for the benefits of people.
  • He had been remained president for 20 years and he had done nothing for the benefits of people.

Are both the sentences correct? Anyone please tell me the difference between these two.


Posted 2013-07-03T07:34:32.043

Reputation: 371



This is a tricky question. The native ear will immediately recognize that "had been remained" is not correct. The had should be followed by a past participle. Remained and been are both past participles; you can use one or the other, but not both.

So, either of these could be used to start the sentence:

  • He had been president for 20 years...
  • He had remained president for 20 years...

This issue gets tricky, however, when you switch to the passive voice. In that case, you can use he had been followed by a past participle, as in:

  • He had been elected 20 years ago...

That's a valid formation, and it's listed as the past perfect passive verb form in this table1:

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So, the question becomes, why can the verb elected be used in this way, but not the verb remained?

The key is that the sentence with elected is using the passive construction, but the sentence with remained has an active construction. As Dave Sperling says on his ESL website:

Because subjects of passive verbs receive the action, verbs that cannot have objects (intransitive verbs) do not have passive forms.

If you look up the words in a dictionary, you'll see that elect is transitive, and remain is intransitive, which is why had been remained sounds so awkward to the native ear, while had been elected sounds just fine – although many native speakers might have a hard time explaining why.

Now, you can explain it for them: "It's because remained is an intransitive verb, so it cannot be used in the passive voice."


Posted 2013-07-03T07:34:32.043

Reputation: 108 123


No, the second is wrong. You cannot combine three participles in one sentence. That said, your first sentence also sounds awkward as it stands. Why not say: In his 20 years presidency, he didn't do anything for the country or the people.


Posted 2013-07-03T07:34:32.043

Reputation: 452

can we say he has not done anything for country and he had not done anything for the country instead of did? – None – 2013-07-03T08:24:45.780

If this is what you are asking, has not done anything is pretty much the same as has done nothing, and had not done anything is pretty much the same as had done nothing. – BobRodes – 2013-07-04T03:26:47.190

You can combine three participles in one sentence. *The report has been being written for six months now* - PaPpl-PrPpl-PaPpl. That doesn't mean you should do so, but it's not ungrammatical. :) – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-08-11T13:13:05.023