first sentence 'This building has been under construction...' sounds
much more natural and would always be preferred to the second which
sounds very clumsy.
Generally, we avoid using the continuous form of the
passive with the future, present perfect, past
perfect and future perfect, although present continuous
and past continuous are quite common and sound quite
natural in the passive voice.
For the purpose of the chart below I have used the verb to clean,
but there are obviously many other possibilities:
is being cleaned...
was being cleaned
will be cleaned...
has been cleaned...
had been cleaned...
will have been cleaned
these further examples of use and note how we avoid using
the continuous form of the passive in the final four
toilet at Terminal One is in frequent use and is cleaned every
four hours. It is being cleaned now, so you'll have to
use the one that is situated opposite the British Airways check-in
daughter's portrait was delivered to my house in London before
I arrived home. I didn't expect this to happen as it was still
being painted when I began my journey back.
will be told when to board the plane in due course. An announcement
will be made, don't worry. And one of my colleagues will be
accompanying you all the way to Guadalajara. (NOT:
You will be being accompanied...)
initial enquiry into the accident has been completed.
The full enquiry has been in progress (NOT: has
being conducted) for six months and will be completed by
had no idea why I had been chosen to represent my country. I was
aware that people had been watching me (NOT: I had
been being watched), but it still came as a surprise.
inspection will have been carried out and the report will have
been written by the time Charles gets back from America. When
he gets on that plane in New York, the inspectors will be holding
a press conference to report their findings (NOT: their
findings will have been being reported)
avoid using the continuous form of the passive in
these examples by switching to the active voice or by using
people to refer to no person in particular.
Note that in informal English we can also use you
or they to refer to people in general and also in this way
avoid using the passive. Compare the following:
going to build another runway at Heathrow Airport.
new runway will be built at Heathrow Airport some time
can buy all kinds of exotic food in Soho.
kinds of exotic food can be bought in Soho.
have to leave all your valuables and jewellery in the lockers
that they provide in the changing rooms. You can't take valuables
into the sports centre itself.
valuables and jewellery must be left in the lockers that are provided
in the changing rooms. Valuables may not be taken into
the sports centre itself.