I am reading a test as follows:

When I got there, I found that the theatre

  1. closed
  2. was closed
  3. has closed
  4. has been closed

I know the answer should be 2 or 4. if I can consider the word "When" in the above context as a definite time (something like yesterday, two days ago and so on) then the answer can be number 2. But if the word "When" must be considered as an indefinite time then the answer should be number 4.

So the question is which option is correct? or in the other words "can I use simple past tense in sentences that begin with when?"

1 Answer 1


... I found that the theatre has been closed.

This is not correct. Here the verb of the Principal Clause ["found"] is in the past tense. So, as per the rules of the sequence of tense, the verb of the Subordinate Clause should be in the past tense too :

...I found that the theatre had been closed.


... I found that the theatre was closed.

  • So, number 2 is correct. I suppose that you didn't read my question carefully.
    – AR AM
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 13:48
  • You mean "had been closed" and "was closed" are both correct.But I guess only one of them can be correct. I don't know I am right or not?
    – AR AM
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 13:58
  • 1
    "has been" isn't always incorrect - it depends on the context. When I got there, I found the theatre has been closed for the past 3 weeks for renovations, but will reopen later this year.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 14:00
  • 2
    Sandip said that had been closed would work, but that isn't one of your four options. No. 4 has been closed would only work as part of a longer sentence, as Colleen suggests. Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 14:08
  • So, as I mentioned before, No. 2 is the answer of the test. I know that "had been closed" is not one of the four option but I wonder if "had been closed" could be correct in the sentence or not?
    – AR AM
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 14:16

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