The example I gave in my comment below is a different one but this is what I was trying to do actually. I was writing down this narrative that happened many years ago, like 10 years or so. I am saying about a particular day from 10 years back.

I wrote like this :

When I was a kid, I had many toys, but the toy train was my favourite. That year too I demanded another toy train for my birthday present as few days back the previous toy train had got broken. So my father bought this new one. I was very happy. But on this very fateful day, I broke the new one too.

This is where I am getting confused. I want to say that the toy was broken accidentally just few days before that fateful day. I didn't break it intentionally or consciously.

I feel like if I use 'The toy was broken', then the reader would think that somebody broke the toy because of some reason, which is not the case.

Same I feel with 'The toy had been broken'

It sounds odd to me if I say 'The toy got broken' or 'The toy had got broken'

So I am really confused about what to use here. Hope I explained properly this time.

  • Hello, Spectra, and welcome to ELL! I'm sorry you were unable to edit your question before. I've unlocked this copy of the question so you can edit it with the details you've been asked for, if you wish. We can probably get it reopened on this site if you edit this copy of the question :-) The copy on English.SE is probably not going to be reopened, so I suggest editing here, not there.
    – user230
    Dec 24, 2016 at 0:17
  • @snailplane :Thank you for unlocking this one. I understood the reason behind it getting closed, so I am editing only here. I am really sorry for all the mess. :) Hope I did everything right this time :)
    – Spectra
    Dec 24, 2016 at 10:54
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    "When I was a kid, I had many toys, but my favorite was my toy train. That year, I asked for another toy train for my birthday as the old one had broken a few days prior, so my father bought a new one. I was very happy. But on this very fateful day, I broke the new one, too." That's how I would have written this sentence. And my advice, stay away from toy trains :D. Dec 30, 2016 at 9:09
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    This is better!! :) Since I never got another toy train, I am kinda staying away from those ever since. :D
    – Spectra
    Jan 2, 2017 at 17:49
  • @Spectra Nice. Just as an aside, in case you cared (which I assume you do since you're actively participating on this site), I would have said, "Well, since I haven't gotten anymore toy trains since (then), I have kinda been staying away from them (ever since)", that is, I would have used present perfect to show continuity. What do you think? Jan 3, 2017 at 10:31

2 Answers 2


A few days back, the toy broke.

To emphasize the event.

Usually implying that it had broken on its own.

Sometimes just used to tell the story of what had happened after.

A few days back, the toy was broken by someone, somehow.

To emphasize the event.

Probably because you want to place blame.

A few days back, the toy was broken.

To emphasize the state of the toy.

As the listener, I would generally expect the follow-up to be, "But it's not broken now" right after the above sentence.

A few days back, the toy had been broken.

To emphasize the state of the toy again.

However, this time, as the listener, I'm left in suspense about the state of the toy now. So my follow-up now would now, "And now? Is the toy still broken now?"

The reason you're having trouble is because you should use passive voice here, not "got."

Hopefully, this also helps you hear the difference between having used the simple past and past perfect.

  • 1
    I have a question with this one : "A few days back, the toy had been broken." Doesn't it mean that someone broke the toy intentionally ?
    – Spectra
    Dec 23, 2016 at 16:21
  • @Spectra And no, it does not imply intention. It's only describing the state of the toy a few days ago. The whole thing is ambiguous. Which is why we use passive voice, usually. "The toy had been broken." "By whom?" "I don't know." "Where?" "I'm not sure." "When?" "Good question." "Then, what DO you know?" "The toy had been broken." ".... Is it still broken now?" "I don't know." "!!!!" Dec 23, 2016 at 16:26

You yourself have answered your question, "want to mean that the toy got broken accidentally few days ago"

The tense is of past indefinite. Therefore, "got broken" would be correct.

Few days back, the toy got broken.

  • Not so. OP's "context" isn't even a complete sentence, and it certainly gives us no indication of the contextual narrative time. I don't much like the usage, but syntactically, The toy had got broken long before I decided who to give it to for Christmas is fine. Dec 23, 2016 at 15:21
  • @FumbleFingers There's nothing more to the sentence I originally posted. I want to use it in a situation like this : My friend : Show me the toy I gave you. Me : Oh, sorry, The toy 'had got broken'/ 'got broke' few days back.
    – Spectra
    Dec 23, 2016 at 15:28
  • This is where I'm getting confused to use what
    – Spectra
    Dec 23, 2016 at 15:30
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    @Teacher KSHuang: I too don't think much of "got-support" in this exact context, but the Simple Past / Past Perfect issue would be exactly the same with A: Show me the toy. B: Oh, sorry, The toy had been broken. In any context I can conceive of, that would always need to be something like The toy has been broken / is broken, or perhaps was broken. Past Perfect would require something like B: Oh, sorry, The toy had been broken before you even gave it to me. Dec 23, 2016 at 18:42
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    @FumbleFingers : Yes I have seen your post and other replies on ELL meta. I understood the reasons behind all this and am sorry for all the mess I created. Thanks for helping with unlocking the post :)
    – Spectra
    Dec 24, 2016 at 11:14

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