I have query that i have seen many sentences that uses Past Participle after "was". But i am little bit confused with Past continuous and Past perfect Tense.

Can anyone tell me the difference?

  • 2
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 15:03
  • The above link is useful. You need to clarify your question, since "was" is not a component of the Past Perfect. It IS a component of the Passive Voice. Read up on the differences between Passive and Active, and please rephrase your question.
    – JMB
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 15:40

1 Answer 1


When you see a sentence that has the auxiliary be + past participle, it means that the sentence is in the "passive voice". You might know the "auxiliary be" as "verb to be", which means the verb to be in any of its form, and was is one of them. You seem to already know what past participle is, which refers to the verb form such as written, sung and raised; and because most of the part participles are regular (having the -ed suffix), the "past participle" is usually called the "-ed form", or the "verb -ed".

When A does something to B, you have two ways to express it: in active, or in passive voice. Consider:

This site will change your life. (active)
Your life will be changed by this site. (passive)

You mentioned the confusion of mistaking the passive voice with the past continuous (was,were + verb -ing) and the past perfect (had + past participle). I think it's likely that you are also confused by the present perfect (has,have + past participle). Here is how the confusion was discussed in Practical English Usage, under the entry 412.5:

Students often confuse active and passive verb forms in English. Typical mistakes:
    I was very interesting in the lesson.
    We were questioning by the immigration officer.
    She has put in prison for life.
Mistakes like these are not surprising, because:
1. Be is used to make both passive verb forms and active progressive tenses.
2. Past participles are used to make both passive verb forms and active perfect tenses. Compare:
    He was calling. (active - past progressive)
    He was called. (passive - simple past)
    He has called. (active - present perfect)

I believe that it can address your confusion nicely.

  • ++ And even more confusing, past perfect continuous passive: He had been being called Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 16:14

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