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Can we use the Stative Passive instead of the Past Perfect tense? for example: I was driving along the road when I saw a car which had broken/was broken down. I stopped to help them.

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  • Notice that you used a different tense there: was broken downhad been broken down; had broken downbroke down. Also, the car was broken down isn't the passive version of the active the car broke down (or the car had broken down).
    – user3395
    Jun 2, 2018 at 18:47
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    Possible duplicate of "My car was breakdown" / "My car had been breakdown". Maybe this answers your question, however. (Take a look at the top voted answer.)
    – user3395
    Jun 2, 2018 at 18:48
  • As a native speaker, I would naturally assume had broken down to be describing a verb—it "broke". On the other hand, I would assume was broken down to be describing an adjective—it was "dilapidated." But there is nothing wrong with either sentence. It just depends on what you're trying to communicate. Jun 2, 2018 at 18:50

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Yes, they are both correct, and in your example they are synonymous, though they are not interchangeable in general.

To say that a car "had broken down" means that it had broken down at some previous time — but perhaps it had since been fixed (or replaced, or destroyed); so, for example, we can say:

I finally got a new car last week; my old car had broken down one too many times.

To say that a car "was broken down" means that it was in a broken-down state at a specific time or during a specific time-period; so, for example, we can say:

Technically I owned the car for almost a year, but it was broken down for a total of eight months of that time.

(By contrast, the converse constructions — *"my car was broken down many times" and *"my car had broken down for eight months" — are not grammatical, or at least, not with the intended meanings.)

In your example, however, both work just fine: with "had broken down" it doesn't explicitly say that the car was still broken down; and with "was broken down" it doesn't explicitly say that the car had entered that state by breaking down; but in both cases it's all completely clear from context and real-world knowledge.

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