I’m aware that this question has been asked a thousand of times already, but this time I really haven’t found any answer to my question.

Is it:

We all had been a child once.


We all have been a child once.

Thank you for your time.

  • Both are possible depending on the context. Btw, the "all" should come after the auxiliary verb: "We have/had all been a child once".
    – BillJ
    Nov 27, 2022 at 15:19
  • 3
    Consider using We were all children once Nov 27, 2022 at 15:31
  • @BillJ I mean the context was that I was talking to my friend about when we were kids, then I didn’t know which one to choose. We’re not children anymore so using had been makes more right ? I don’t know…
    – leo
    Nov 27, 2022 at 15:52
  • 1
    In that case, only the second one is possible. Note that we might more naturally say "We were all children once".
    – BillJ
    Nov 27, 2022 at 16:40
  • If we are all dead, then past perfect could be correct.
    – gotube
    Nov 27, 2022 at 17:55

1 Answer 1


Both are very awkward.
You're separating the structures and masking the issue a little, but you don't have agreement on number, for starters.

Simplify it, bring it to simple present tense and you will see why.

We all are a child.

hmm… no. Try

We all are children.

So, let's take it back into past tense. The simplest version is the one most likely to be used in common speech.

We all were children once.

If we build from that, then we could use

We all have been children once, or
We all had been children once.

Both are now acceptable, but feel a little 'stiff'. Each could have its place, but you'd have to choose carefully. Stick with the simplest version.

The choice between 'all were' or 'were all' is stylistic. 'All were' still feels a little archaic, but actually is a form I use a lot. (I'm old ;)


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