type of a sentence

soni   Friday, August 13, 2004, 02:26 GMT
The following sentence is taken from a website:

"The crash happened shortly after they missed a drugs test, which could result in them being banned from the Olympics."

What I want to ask is the function of "being" in that sentence. Actually, I don't know what to ask, but, why the writer of this article use "being"?

Can I use the following?:

"The crash happened shortly after they missed a drugs test, which could result in them are banned from the Olympics." ---> I use "are" in this version.
Mi5 Mick   Friday, August 13, 2004, 05:48 GMT
No, but you could write:
"The crash happened shortly after they missed a drugs test, which could result in a ban for them from the Olympics."
soni   Friday, August 13, 2004, 07:53 GMT
What kind of sentence is this? Could you give me more examples?
Easterner   Friday, August 13, 2004, 09:03 GMT
Actually this is a way of making a composite clause more compact. The sentence has actually three clauses:
Clause 1: The crash happened shortly after they missed a drugs test...
Clause 2: which could result in + Clause 3
Clause 3: them being banned from the Olympics (the idea being: "that they are banned from the Olympics"). The function of this clause is adverbial of result.
Clause 2 is a composite clause, quite complex in itself, and another way to express this idea would be as Mick said. "They" is the direct object of clause 3, and using the "-ing" form of "be" allows it to be put in an objective case, thus making the clause more compact. This construction may seem strange for a non-English speaker, but it is actually very English! This is a convenient way of making adverbial clauses in general more compact, as in:
"They being on holiday, we couldn't find them at the office".
The alternative form of the first clause (adverbial of cause) would be: "Because/since/as they were on holiday...". Can you see the difference? It means the same but it is longer, and doesnt't sound so good. And people will always tend to prefer the more compact forms.
Easterner   Friday, August 13, 2004, 14:15 GMT
Some more examples:

"Forgive me being rude." (instead of: "Forgive me that I was/have been rude") - the clause with "being" is a direct object here.
"There's no chance of him meeting the President." (instead of: "no chance that he will meet the President")
"I don't remember her saying that to me." (instead of: "that she has said that to me")

So this structure can conveniently be used for both adverbial and objective clauses.

I hope that has helped.
Easterner   Friday, August 13, 2004, 16:13 GMT
Sorry, it should be "object clauses".
soni   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 03:38 GMT
Hmm... yeah, it is strange and rather complicated. I should get used to it, the usage of a compact form of a sentence.

Looking at your example, "they being holiday,..." it is so strange for me.

Thanks a lot!
soni   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 03:46 GMT
Another question is, is it common in a everyday conversation? Because I saw that kind of sentence on a website, which is an online news (bbc.co.uk).

"They being holiday...." as a non-native speaker, I will tend to use the following construction: "Because they were on holiday...."
Easterner   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 08:47 GMT
I'm a non-native speaker too, but I think it's quite common in written use, at least judging from examples I have encountered from Internet forums and other written sources (it may also be typical in more educated or careful speech). The pronoun + verb + -ing structure is quite universal in English, and I think as you see or hear it used you will accept it as normal as you get on.
CalifJim   Saturday, August 14, 2004, 22:11 GMT
Sorry, but "they being" is not English.

The only possibilities before a gerund (-ing word used as a noun) are the possessive and the object form (their or them). In many, but not all, cases, the possessive forms (my, your, his, her, our, their) are preferred.

Their being on holiday was inconvenient for everyone.
(They were on holiday) <<< That was inconvenient for everyone.

He's angry because of my being on holiday.
He's angry because of me being on holiday. (not as good)
He's angry because of this >>> (I am on holiday).
Easterner   Sunday, August 15, 2004, 05:49 GMT

Sorry, I have to disagree with you at this point. I have found several authentic examples on the Net alone using the "they being" structure as an adverbial clause. Here are just a few:

"Apparently, she felt that the colour complemented her own house, they being on opposite sides of the street."
"On Wednesday the Indian King and his retinue, in their return from the Tower, were regaled in an handsome manner by several merchants of this City trading to South Carolina, at the Carolina Coffee House in Birchin-Lane, where a great number of gentlemen resorted to see them, *they being* on their return home..."
"The particular microclimate of this area has great influence on the quality and typically local nature of the wines made here, they being on the whole, full-bodied, dark red wines..."

I think we are talking of two different things. "They being on holiday" is a spearate, attached clause used as an adverbial of cause, the examples you mentioned, on the other hand, are subordinate clauses used as subjects or adverbials, where possessive forms are the best or the only possibility.

Of course, the sentence I originally quoted can also be started as "due to their being on holiday...", with the possessive form of the pronoun used, but I feel this is slightly more formal.

Anyway, I think that the possessive and the object forms are equally acceptable, with one or the other being more appropriate in certain contexts. Hopefully I'm not being too pedantic.
CalifJim   Monday, August 16, 2004, 06:29 GMT
I am not aware of ever having heard that construction (in American English) -- at least not where it was considered correct. What variety of English are you quoting? British? Australian? I suspect from the spelling of "color" that it's one of these. I would like to find out more. Thanks! That was definitely eye-opening.