Consider these sentences, please:

  1. Looking at her now you’d never guess she had been so upset.

Can I use "has been" or "was" in place of "had been" in the sentence above?

  1. I’d never have guessed that they were married.

Are they still married or is the sentence talking about them being married in the past? Can I use "had been" in place of "were" in sentence 2)?


1: "Had been" is the best choice, because you are saying she isn't upset now. It is over. It is in the past.

2: The best guess is that they are married now. A good native English speaker would have said 'they had been married' if they meant they weren't married now. Most would probably say 'they are married' if it was still true, because the subjunctive is dying and because 'were' is a bit ambiguous.


It depends on what you are trying to say. I cannot think of a situation where has been makes any sense; however, had been or was both can fit with a slight difference in meaning. Had been signifies the time continuity in the emotional state of the person you are talking about. It makes the reader feel that she was upset for a continuous period of time. Using was, on the underhand, you do not focus on the continuation of her emotional state, but rather just focuses on her emotional state at the specific time you are talking about.

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