Which of the following is correct?

  • Dam had been constructed before the flood.


  • Dam has been constructing before the flood.

  • The dam had been constructed before the flood. I'll let someone else explain why that's the correct way to write it, because I am not super great with the specifics of verb tense.
    – Element115
    Feb 24, 2018 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


There are so many things to say here that I may miss some.

First, "dam" needs to be preceded by "the."

Second, either The dam had been constructed before the flood or The dam was constructed before the flood are acceptable. A purist might say that only "had been constructed" is technically correct because the past perfect is the correct tense to indicate a past action that preceded a different past action. However, if the sequence of construction and flood was of little importance, "was constructed" would be used by many well spoken people. Notice that this question is about whether to use the simple past or the past perfect in the passive voice. Passives are constructed from a form of the verb "be" and a past participle.

Third has been constructing is in the past progressive tense in the active voice. Dams do not construct anything so the active voice is meaningless with this verb. If we were to re-write using the passive voice, we must use the past participle of "construct" rather than the present participle. If we want to make the tense past progressive, we must also use a present participle. In other words to get a past progressive tense in the passive voice we must write "was being constructed" using the present participle of "be" and the past participle of "construct."

Fourth, using the past progressive changes the meaning. The dam was being constructed before the flood strongly implies that construction was not completed before the flood.

I think you need to review the difference in meaning between active and passive voice, the differences in meaning among simple past, past progressive, and past perfect, and how to construct the perfect and progressive tenses in both active and passive voices. You seem to have all these admittedly tricky things a bit jumbled.

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