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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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10 Jun 2017, 08:48
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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.

Want more?

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

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10 Jun 2017, 10:29
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Top Contributor
Updated the list

https://gmatclub.com/forum/experts-topi ... l#p1867363

Great stuff. Thank you.

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

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12 Jun 2017, 08:09
Just wanted to give a belated shout-out to warriorguy for suggesting this topic. This one's for you, brother.
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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy  [#permalink]

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03 Jul 2017, 12:13
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GMATNinja wrote:
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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29 Oct 2017, 11:54
1
Hi GMATNinja,

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

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

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10 Apr 2018, 13:10
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aceGMAT21 wrote:
Hi GMATNinja,

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

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

Quote:
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.

Here Being is used as a noun.

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

Quote:
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.

Here Being is used as a noun.

For more: https://e-gmat.com/blogs/spare-a-thought-for-being/

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

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23 Dec 2018, 12:32
Hi GMATNinja
I don't see why "Being one of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk is beloved by millions of music lovers worldwide" is incorrect. Is it because TM is already dead?

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

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11 Feb 2019, 22:07
Another question from OG 10th Edition, in which the use of being is incorrect:-

Having the right hand and arm being crippled by a sniper's bullet during the First World War, Horace Pippin,
a Black American painter, worked by holding the brush in his right hand and guiding its movements with his
left.

(A) Having the right hand and arm being crippled by a sniper's bullet during the First World War
(B) In spite of his right hand and arm being crippled by a sniper's bullet during the First World War
(C) Because there had been a sniper's bullet during the First World War that crippled his right hand and arm
(D) The right hand and arm being crippled by a sniper's bullet during the First World War
(E) His right hand and arm crippled by a sniper's bullet during the First World War

Can you spot the reason why 'being' is incorrect here?
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Re: Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy  [#permalink]

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02 Apr 2019, 02:40
patto wrote:
Hi GMATNinja
I don't see why "Being one of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk is beloved by millions of music lovers worldwide" is incorrect. Is it because TM is already dead?

You could think of this in a couple of different ways. For starters, “being” is used as a modifier here (specifically a participle, if you like grammar jargon), and that generally isn’t something that you’ll see in correct answers on the GMAT. “Being” can be used correctly as a verb or as a noun, but it’s very difficult to come up with cases when it’s used in correct answers as a modifier. (See usage #3 in the original post above.)

Perhaps just as importantly, there’s no good reason to include “being.” Why not just shorten it to “One of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk…”? That cleans it up nicely.

I hope this helps!
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SC 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?

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

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06 Jun 2019, 02:13
GMATNinja wrote:
patto wrote:
Hi GMATNinja
I don't see why "Being one of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk is beloved by millions of music lovers worldwide" is incorrect. Is it because TM is already dead?

You could think of this in a couple of different ways. For starters, “being” is used as a modifier here (specifically a participle, if you like grammar jargon), and that generally isn’t something that you’ll see in correct answers on the GMAT. “Being” can be used correctly as a verb or as a noun, but it’s very difficult to come up with cases when it’s used in correct answers as a modifier. (See usage #3 in the original post above.)

Perhaps just as importantly, there’s no good reason to include “being.” Why not just shorten it to “One of the world’s greatest jazz composers, Thelonious Monk…”? That cleans it up nicely.

I hope this helps!

Hi Charles,

Thank you very much for your invaluable time and effort. The below is the correct answer choice to a GMAT Prep question that uses being as a modifier (according to Ron Purewal and e-gmat). It woud be great, if you could elaborate on the role of being here

A mixture of poems and short fiction, Jean Toomer’s Cane has been called one of the three best novels ever written by a Black American - the others being Richard Wright’s Native Son and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
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Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy  [#permalink]

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19 Jul 2019, 08:09
Hello,Ninjia
Your explanation to the usage of "being" is complete and precise.But after reading I have a question about:How to differentiate the "being" used as "noun" or "modifier",could you offer me a solution just like what you said for the "being" used as "verb".
Thank you so much for your patience and time.
Allen Irving
Experts’ Topic of the Week, 6/4/17: "Being" is not the enemy   [#permalink] 19 Jul 2019, 08:09
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