I read lyrics of Some Say Love/The Rose and then a question came up in my mind which is little bit unclear for me.

What is the exact differences between

When the night, has been too lonely,...


When the night, is too lonely,...

Like again I have an idea about what the difference might be but I would glad to hear an explanation from a native.

The section of the lyrics where this appears is:

When the night, has been too lonely,
And the road, has been too long.
And you feel, that love is only,
for the lucky, and the strong.

  • 1
    The has been usage suggests that the discussion is about something that has past. The is version is generally used to talk about a habit. For instance, when the night is too lonely, I go for drinks
    – vickyace
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 12:04

1 Answer 1


This is simply a theory, but I believe it might provide some further understanding. Simply put, the collocation “has been” seems as though it is the present-tense phrasal verb to denote relating to the past; on the contrary, “is” emphasises its occurrence as a present event.

For example, consider the following two examples:

It has been such a lovely day so far, the teenager mused; even as she spoke, the day-star rayed down its comforting warmth, bathing her in golden light . . .

“It’s beautiful today, isn’t it?” he asked his companion, eyes momentarily hovering over the form of a pre-teen girl, his junior by only several months. As he spoke, sunlight refracted off of her cerulean eyes, causing them to appear as though they were sparkling; the light also glanced off of her short, reddish-orange hair . . .

In the first example, the term “has been” refers to something earlier (in this case, the time period), although it may, at times, extend to the current happenings—but chiefly as a supplement.

However, the subsequent example indicates the present occurrences, in present tense.

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