I was in the queue to buy metro tickets today and a couple of tourists were having a hard time purchasing them. I wanted to explain to them that the old one pound coins were removed from circulation yesterday. I told them 'they have been removed' instead of 'they were removed'. I think I made a mistake because it is an event that is finished in the past but somehow it emphasizes something in the present. For me, there is a grey area between those tenses and I would deeply appreciate help.


The only issue I still had with PP was described in the british council website. 'for something that happened in the past but is important at the time of speaking:' and then the example was 'I can’t get in the house. I’ve lost my keys.'. But I realize that this can be put in the same category as something that happened in the past and we don't care when.

  • 1
    What is your exact sentence? If it is "they were removed from circulation yesterday", then the use of the word "yesterday" means that the simple past "were" is virtually mandatory. But if it's "they have been removed from circulation" then the perfect is much more likely to be used.
    – rjpond
    Oct 14, 2017 at 9:39
  • Both are correct. It depends on what you want to say. "They were removed" [one action, over, where a specific moment in time is either stated or implied yesterday, last week, specific date, etc.). The PP has two uses: the thing continues true in the present AND/OR, and this is a BIG AND/OR, the specific time an event occurred is not important, just that it was in the past.
    – Lambie
    Oct 14, 2017 at 14:28
  • 2
    "They were removed [yesterday]" or "They have been removed [unspecified as regards when". Both are correct.
    – Lambie
    Oct 14, 2017 at 14:30
  • @Lambie many thanks for your comments, it helped me
    – zakrapovic
    Nov 6, 2017 at 16:46
  • Great! Glad to help.
    – Lambie
    Nov 17, 2017 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


I like your "they have been removed," because you were focusing not on the action but on the result of the action: They are no longer here because they have been removed.

I'd use "they were removed" if I were going to focus on the action itself: "They were removed at 2:00 yesterday with great fanfare."

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