What is the difference between it is broken and it has been broken please?


  • what is your research? What do you think about it? Here, on this site, we answer questions with at least a bit of research and efforts. Also, please note, proofreading is offtopic. – Maulik V Aug 23 '14 at 5:33
  • 2
    You can find this similar question helpful – user6200 Aug 23 '14 at 5:50

When I say something is broken, broken is used as an adjective. I'm describing the state of the thing and I'm not interested in the action that led to this state. For all I know it could have got broken without human intervention through decomposition, old age, etc. And it does not say how long it's been in that state, it could be minutes, hours, years, etc.

My CD player is broken.

It's a plain statement.

If I say something "has been broken" (present perfect, passive), I focus on the action and not on the object. It helps me specify one or several aspects of this action.

My CD player has been broken for a week now.

This last sentence focuses on how long it has been in that state.

I love this vase, unfortunately it has been broken twice and next time I don't know if I'll be able to mend it.

This last sentence focuses on the repetition of the action.

I can't listen to my CDs now that my CD player has been broken.

When I say this last sentence, although I do not name anyone I imply that the CD player got broken through human intervention. I could even be more specific and add who caused this to happen.

I can't listen to my CDs now that my CD player has been broken by my brother.

So your choice of one or the other will entirely depend on context, on what you want to say.

  • Thank you very much. since you have earned 3 positive votes till now I don't give you more +1 votes! Instead an answer vote! :) – abbasi Aug 25 '14 at 8:45

First of all, the sentence "it is broken" is in the "Present passive voice" and the second one is in the "Present perfect passive voice". And the main difference is that you may use the first sentence if the action is happening at the moment or not a long time ago. Whereas when you use the second one, the range of time in which the action may have happened seems longer.

"-Oh, you dropped the glass!
-Oh, no. It's broken." (It is broken)

"-We've not lived here for ages.
- Look at this glass. It's been broken." (You have no idea when the glass has been broken) (It has been broken)

BTW, as usual, there are many ways to say a single sentence in English, so sometimes you can use either of the sentences interchangeably.

  • 2
    @Maulik V "it's" can be "it is" or, as in this case, "it has". – fluffy Aug 23 '14 at 6:31
  • @MaulikV fluffy is right. – mok Aug 23 '14 at 6:33
  • @fluffy to avoid ambiguity, the answerer should use the full form. And this question precisely talks about the nuance of "it's, it has'. the question has been asked by a very new user. Anyway, your wish. – Maulik V Aug 23 '14 at 6:34
  • @MaulikV I don't see any ambiguity as it's completely clear from the context on which we're talking. Anyway I'll use the full form! – mok Aug 23 '14 at 6:36
  • 1
    There is no ambiguity. "It is been broken" is ungrammatical so everyone interprets it as "It has been broken" instead. Contracting it to "It's been broken" is perfectly fine and indeed quite natural. – snailplane Aug 23 '14 at 6:36

You can use both. But "it has been broken" especially refers to the recent time period i.e. a finished action with a result in the present (focus on result) (it is a present perfect tense)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.