The valuable stringed instruments in this display, all more than 300 years old, were carefully crafted by artisans famous in their day but long since forgotten.

Is ""have been long since forgotten" necessary in the sentence and correct?

  • I would say so. Why do you think it isn't? – user3169 Oct 2 '14 at 21:25
  • I usually hear "long since forgotten" preceded by have, so i don't know whether omitting the have is correct – user8959 Oct 3 '14 at 20:21
  • For example, do you mean the difference between "I have long since forgotten about what happened" vs. "I mentioned the long since forgotten argument"? – user3169 Oct 3 '14 at 21:21
  • yes, i mean that – user8959 Oct 3 '14 at 21:45
  • It seems to be the difference between intransitive and transitive verb usage. – user3169 Oct 3 '14 at 22:29

An explicit copula (form of BE) is not necessary. The past participle forgotten here acts as an adjective, parallel with famous. Famous follows the noun it modifies because it is modified by a preposition phrase to its 'right', and forgotten comes after that because it is the second element in a conjoined modifier, famous ... but ... forgotten. If that PP in their day were replaced with once you could write

... by once famous but now long since forgotten artisans

which would make the adjectival character of forgotten more obvious. But you are not obliged to write it that way; you could also write

... by artisans once famous but now long since forgotten.

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Well, "but long since forgotten" is definitely incorrect. "Long since forgotten" is a phrase that describes the instruments. "Have been" is the verb phrase necessary to attribute that descriptive phrase to the instruments. It's similar to saying: Alexander the Great conquered many enemies, and prolific leader. "Prolific leader" describes Alexander the Great, but without a verb (and article "a") such as "was," this makes no sense.

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  • No: the artisans were famous then but are forgotten now. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 2 '14 at 21:44
  • I'm afraid I don't understand your post. "Are" is the be verb attributing forgotten to artisans. What's your point? Wait, did my post get downvoted because people seriously thought I meant you can only use "have been" to attribute adjectives to nouns? Are you people insane? – Crazy Eyes Oct 3 '14 at 14:07
  • I downvoted - I can't speak for others - because I believe that "long since forgotten" modifies the artisans, not the instruments. – StoneyB on hiatus Oct 3 '14 at 14:24

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