Are these statements correct? and What are the tenses of the following sentences?

The shop opened

... while the shop opened by James Booth and taken over by Arthur Simpson in 1909 has long gone. Daily Telegraph

The shop was opened

In 1921 it opened its first dedicated shop in London’s Oxford Street. Known as HMV – an acronym for His Master’s Voice – the shop was opened by Sir Edward Elgar. Daily Mail


. . . the shop (opened by James Booth and taken over by Arthur Simpson in 1909) has long gone. 

In this clause, the only verb that has a tense is "has".  The three other verbs are non-finite forms: "opened", "taken" and "gone".  The traditional name for this non-finite form is past participle.  That's a confusing name because the past participle has nothing to do with the past tense. 

We can consider "has gone" as a coherent verb phrase in the active voice, present tense, perfect aspect and indicative mode.  You may have been taught to call this the present perfect tense.  I find it easier to understand tense (past, present, and maybe future) and aspect (simple or indefinite, continuous, and perfect) as separate properties instead of lumping them both under the name tense

Both "opened by James Booth" and "taken over by Arthur Simpson in 1909" are participial phrases.  There are at least two ways of explaining how they work. 

The way that I prefer is to say that participial phrases can do the same job that adjectives do.  In this case, they directly modify the noun "shop". 

The explanation that seems to be more common on this site is to say that they are reduced relative clauses.  In this case, there are a number of words missing -- "opened by James Booth" is taken to mean "[ [which/that] [is/was/has been/had been/etc.] ] opened by James Booth". 

In the end, the difference between these two explanations is small.  If we think of "opened by James Booth" as an adjectival participial phrase, then it has no tense in the same way that the adjective "happy" has no tense.  If we think of it as a reduced relative clause, then its tense is unknown because the words that would mark the tense are missing. 

The phrase "the shop opened by James Booth" does not stand as an independent clause in this context.  That may be hard to see because "opened" is both the past tense form and the perfect aspect form (or past participle form).  The participles "taken" and "gone" are easier to recognize because they are distinct from the past tense form "took" and "went". 


. . . the shop was opened by Sir Edward Elgar. 

This is a past tense construction.  Specifically, it is in the passive voice, past tense, indefinite aspect and indicative mode.  The verb phrase is "was opened".  The finite verb "was" marks the past tense and licenses the passive voice.  The participle "opened" fulfills the passive voice license. 

If we want to express both the passive voice and the perfect aspect, we would need to use two so-called past participles, one for each purpose.  For example:

The shop had been opened. 

Here, the "had" marks the past tense and licenses the perfect aspect.  The "been" fulfills the perfect aspect license and in turn licenses the passive voice.  Finally, the "opened" fulfills the passive voice license. 


Yes, they are correct.

The first is just the participle, "opened," used as an adjective to describe the shop.

The second is passive voice in the simple past, as evinced by the simple past conjugation of "was" with the past participle of "open," to form "was opened."

Please note again, the first is not the passive voice, which might help explain why it's correct.

  • Isn't opened also a verb in the first sentence? We have the agent of the action, James. A: Who opened the shop? B: James C: it was opened by him. I think ellipsis is in play here. – Mari-Lou A Jan 19 '17 at 10:02
  • @Mari-LouA Note that in your example, you've applied passive tense to the original where there was none, in which case, "opened" would still just be a past participle and the verb would be "was." If you read the original sentence in its original context, you see where the true verb and predicate of the sentence is. – Teacher KSHuang Jan 19 '17 at 10:07
  • I'm not so sure. It could be an example of a reduced relative clause "... the shop (that was) opened by James. – Mari-Lou A Jan 19 '17 at 10:13
  • @Mari-LouA OK :). – Teacher KSHuang Jan 19 '17 at 10:23

In addition to the previous answer:

The shop opened.

Without any context this may mean that it started to do business (as usual at the certain time).

In the context of the title, I can't but agree with Mary Lou - it is an example of a reduced relative clause "the shop that was opened by Sir Edward James"

The shop was opened.

Without context this may mean that someone completed all the procedures to make it ready to start functioning. In the context, it is Sir Edward Elgar who did it.

  • Did you look at the examples cited by the OP? – Mari-Lou A Jan 19 '17 at 10:30
  • @Mari-LouA - So I did. Why are you asking? I don't feel like repeting what already has been said. – VictorB Jan 19 '17 at 10:34
  • The title has "by", and the citations contain "by" too. – Mari-Lou A Jan 19 '17 at 10:40

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