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Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy

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Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy [#permalink]

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Verbal Experts’ Topic of the Week, June 4-10, 2017


“Being” is not the enemy



If you’re a regular participant in our Wednesday verbal chats (join us!), you might already know that we’re not afraid to contradict some of the “conventional wisdom” in the GMAT world. You should memorize idioms? Not necessarily. You should always use GMAT materials to study for the GMAT exam? Maybe not. You should learn every piece of grammar terminology possible? Probably not.

Here’s another thing we frequently hear from our GMAT students: “being” is always wrong. And you probably know what we’re going to say about that: not so fast.

When it comes down to it, “being” really isn’t all that different from any other “-ing” word. Just like any other “-ing” word on the GMAT, “being” could, in theory, be used as either a verb, a noun, or a modifier. It’s just that there are a couple of twists that make it a little bit different.

So what should you do whenever you see “being” on the GMAT? Well, it depends on how, exactly, “being” is used. (And if you haven’t already, please make sure that you’ve read our guide to “-ing” words before you continue with this post. )


Three potential uses of “being”


1) “Being” as a verb (progressive tense)


In our earlier post on “-ing” words, we mentioned that it’s possible for an "–ing" word to be a verb, as long as it’s preceded by some form of “to be.” Here are a couple of examples:

  • Domenico is dreaming of olive groves right now.
  • Souvik was admiring his GMAT score report when he realized that he hadn’t slept properly in nearly four years.

And there’s no reason why “being” couldn’t be used as a verb also, as long as it’s also preceded by some form of “to be”:

  • Charles is being cruel to his GMAT students today.
  • Mike was being nice when he said that your hair looked good this morning.

So if “being” is preceded by some form of “to be”, it’s just a verb. You don’t see this form very often on the GMAT (though an official GMAT example can be found here), but there’s no reason why it’s wrong.

On to possibility #2:


2) “Being” as a noun (gerund)


As we discussed in our previous post, “-ing” words can also be used as nouns (also known as gerunds if you like grammar jargon). A couple of examples:

  • Eating is Charles’s only real skill.
  • Amy's favorite activities include writing and cleaning her cat’s litter box.

In general, "-ing" nouns are easy to spot on the GMAT: they’re clearly either the subject or an object of the sentence. And again, there’s no reason why “being” can’t also be used as a noun on the GMAT:

  • Being a GMAT tutor makes Mike happy.
  • Charles’s favorite activities include eating and being lazy.

So far, “being” is just like any other “-ing” word, right? “Being” can function just fine as a verb or a noun. But as you hopefully already know, “-ing” words are most frequently used as modifiers on the GMAT… and that’s where we run into trouble.


3) “Being” as a modifier


On the GMAT, “-ing” words are most often used as modifiers. If you like grammar jargon, feel free to call them participles. A few examples:

  • Dancing happily through the streets of Mumbai, Souvik clutched his GMAT score report with unbridled joy.
  • Gracefully riding an enormous wave off the coast of Chile, Mike felt like a world champion surfer.

And here’s the only real difference between “being” and any other “-ing” word: “being” simply won’t work as a modifier in most cases. Here are some sentences that would undoubtedly be wrong on the GMAT:

  • Being born in Italy, Domenico has a deep understanding of outstanding cuisine.
  • Being one of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk is beloved by millions of music lovers worldwide.

I’ve never seen a correct GMAT sentence that uses “being” as a modifier – and these two obviously aren’t correct, either. And that’s the main difference between “being” and other “-ing” words: “being” apparently can’t be used as a modifier on the GMAT. Official examples of this can be found here, here, and here.


So “being” isn’t always wrong!


Bottom line: when you see “being” in a sentence, don’t automatically assume that it’s wrong. If “being” is used as a verb (preceded by some form of “to be”) or a noun, it could very well be acceptable. But if “being” is used as a modifier, it is almost certainly incorrect.


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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy [#permalink]

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New post 10 Jun 2017, 09:29
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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jun 2017, 07:09
Just wanted to give a belated shout-out to warriorguy for suggesting this topic. This one's for you, brother.
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GMAT Ninja Wednesdays LIVE on YouTube
Join us, and ask your questions in advance!

Beginners' guides to GMAT verbal
Reading Comprehension | Critical Reasoning | Sentence Correction

SC & CR Questions of the Day (QOTDs), featuring expert explanations
All QOTDs | Subscribe via email | RSS

Need an expert reply?
Hit the request verbal experts' reply button -- and please be specific about your question. Feel free to tag @GMATNinja and @GMATNinjaTwo in your post.

Sentence Correction articles & resources
How to go from great (760) to incredible (780) on GMAT SC | That "-ing" Word Probably Isn't a Verb | That "-ed" Word Might Not Be a Verb, Either | No-BS Guide to GMAT Idioms | "Being" is not the enemy | WTF is "that" doing in my sentence?

Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and other articles & resources
All GMAT Ninja articles on GMAT Club | Using LSAT for GMAT CR & RC |7 reasons why your actual GMAT scores don't match your practice test scores | How to get 4 additional "fake" GMAT Prep tests for $29.99... in any section order

YouTube verbal webinars:
"Next-level" GMAT pronouns | Uses of "that" on the GMAT | Parallelism and meaning | Simplifying GMAT verb tenses | Comparisons, part I |
November webinar schedule

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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy [#permalink]

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Just wanted to give a belated shout-out to warriorguy for suggesting this topic. This one's for you, brother.


Thanks for the amazing post GMATNinja.

Will find some official (correct) GMAT examples and update the thread. :)

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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2017, 10:54
Hi GMATNinja,

First of all, the above post is just awesome! I learnt a lot from the same. :-) :-) :thumbup:

But still I have some doubts. :| Can you please explain the usage of BEING in the following 2 sentences,

1. Performing a risky maneuver that required precision flying, space shuttle astronauts retrieved an orbiting satellite and simultaneously avoided being rear-ended by a passing ultraviolet telescope.

As per my understanding this usage is similar to, Charles’s favorite activities include eating and being lazy. But I am not sure.

2. During the 1950s, as part of their therapy, young polio victims learning to live with their disabilities were helped to practice falling, so that they could learn to fall without being hurt.

Thanks in advance! :-)

Thanks.
-Varun.

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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy   [#permalink] 29 Oct 2017, 10:54
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Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy

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