By Nick Potter

 

In this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers.

These and lots more invaluable tips are compiled in two e-books/paperbacks, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals and More English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

being

In Spanish you can start a subordinate clause with the word siendo, right? For example:

Siendo hoy el último día del Contrato de Arrendamiento…”

Cada pregunta se valora de 1 a 9, siendo 1 la puntuación más baja y 9 la más alta

But… what about in English?

Question: Only ONE of A – F below is correct. Which?

A At 31 December its core capital ratio was 9.39% – being the minimum requested 9%
B The department was involved in the insolvency proceedings of X in Spain, being this the firm’s most important transaction for two years
C Being the biggest health insurer in the U.S., the company expects to increase its enrollments over the next year
D These reserved matters would require a qualified majority of nine votes (being the board of directors formed by ten members)
E All materials will be delivered to the Directors in English or Spanish, being any Director entitled to request an English translation of any document in Spanish
F Bonds convertible into company shares for a total of €450m (being the face value of each €50,000)

 

  • Before you read the answer, remember:

The good news is that you can start a subordinate cause with the word “being” in English too.

For example:

  • Being a friend of the Minister, I am often invited to official parties
  • Nottingham Forest are quite a unique football club, being the only team to have won the European Cup and got relegated to the third division of their domestic league

“Being” is the present participle (“-ing”) form of the verb to be, of course.

And verbs go with a subject (you, me, Yoda), i.e. the person “being” something.

The bad news is that, in English, you cannot start a subordinate clause with “being” if its subject is in the same clause.

You can only start a subordinate clause with “being” if the subject is in the main clause.

Above, the friend of the Minister is “I” in the other clause. The team that won the European Cup (twice!) and got relegated at home is, sadly, “Nottingham Forest” – again, in the other clause.

If the subject of “being” is in the same subordinate clause, then it is no different to any other subject-verb sentence. “Being” goes after the subject. Like here:

  • Please rate the following on a scale of 1-5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest)

This is the same rule as in any normal sentence. You would never say “Is 1 the highest and is 5 the lowest”.

  • So:

Only C is correct. In all the others, the subject of “being” is in the same clause and must go before the verb. Unless you want to sound like Yoda.

A At 31 December its core capital ratio was 9.39% – being the minimum requested being 9% [subject = the minimum requested]
B The department was involved in the insolvency proceedings of X in Spain, being this being the firm’s most important transaction for two years [subject = this]
C Being the biggest health insurer in the U.S., the company expects to increase its enrollments over the next year [CORRECT] [subject = the company, in the main clause]
D These reserved matters would require a qualified majority of nine votes (being the board of directors being formed by ten members) [subject = the board of directors]
E All materials will be delivered to the Directors in English or Spanish, being any Director being entitled to request an English translation of any document in Spanish [subject = any Director]
F Bonds convertible into company shares for a total of €450m (being the face value of each being €50,000) [subject = the face value of each]

All seem a little complicated? Then just avoid subordinate clauses and “being” altogether. Use separate sentences. For example, A above could be:

A At 31 December its core capital ratio was 9.39%. The minimum requested is 9%.

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