a) I know you were sixteen on your last birthday.


b) I know you have been sixteen on your last birthday.

Could you please tell me which one is correct? Please give a brief explanation. Thank you in advance.


While this:

I know you were sixteen on your last birthday.

is the more correct of the two, it's a little bit ambiguous, and sounds slightly unusual to my ear; it would be more common to say:

I know you turned sixteen on your last birthday.
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  • I don't think it is "more correct". One could equally say "were" or "turned" here. – nxx Mar 13 '14 at 20:46
  • You're right - it's not more correct, merely more common. 'Turned' is the way I and most people I know would phrase the statement. – MrTheWalrus Mar 13 '14 at 21:09
  • Is it more common though? Might be an AmE/BrE thing or even just locally specific. (goo goo g'joob) – nxx Mar 13 '14 at 21:12

I know you were sixteen on your last birthday - is correct.

have been is present perfect and in this context, you are talking about her last birthday, so it does not go that way.

Learn that telling age should be in particular ways. For example -

You were sixteen years old on your last birthday.
You were sixteen on your last birthday

Good reading here.

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  • "Have been" implies that something has happened in the past at some unspecified time before now. For example, we have all been three years old (at least, it is safe to assume such). But we were all three years old on our third birthday. – BobRodes Mar 10 '14 at 13:47

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