A) He was arrested by police.

B) He had been arrested by police.

In newspaper reporter want to tell about past event that has already happened.

In above statements Reporter conveyed same meaning, that police have arrested criminal and he is still in there custody.

I am aware that above sentence are in past Tense i.e. former is in simple past and later is in Past perfect and also in passive voice.

My question is that why reporter purposely used was and had been in sentence? Instead of that he could have used present perfect. Example:

He has been arrested by police.

Also some times reporters does not use simple past before using past perfect.


He had been arrested by police when I was reached on the spot.

  • In case of A, I won't agree with and he is still in there custody part. This sentence does not convey this message. Aug 18, 2014 at 19:07
  • Apart from missing articles, would you mind checking these words in your question? want, there, instade, Preste, some times, does?
    – Maulik V
    Aug 19, 2014 at 4:48
  • What newspaper do these sentences come from? Please cite the source. Jun 30, 2023 at 5:37

1 Answer 1


If I understand your question correctly, you are asking why the reporter would first state that the man was arrested by the police and then later state that the man had been arrested by the police. In short, what is the difference between was and had been?

The first sentence (A) is more ambiguous and could mean that the man was just arrested 30 minutes ago or was arrested some unspecified time in the past. It also does not make clear whether he is still under arrest. The second sentence (B) indicates that the arrest was not recent and he is not currently under arrest.

Past perfect happens earlier in the past than simple past and has a definite ending point.

Example #1: A man was found shoplifting at Wal-Mart ten minutes ago and was arrested by the police. He is still in custody.

Example #2: Police are also investigating John Doe as an accessory to the crime because he had been involved in a burglary ring a year ago.


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