Recently read about one grammar rule in English that is we cannot use is, was and were with possessive verb

My Active sentence is

This is my property. I owned this property since last 5 years.

Correct passive sentence construction

e.g. 1) This property belonged to me since last 5 years.

2) This property owned by me since last 5 years.

Whereas if I construct sentence like below sentences does it change the meaning?

My Passive sentence construction

e.g. 1) This property is belonged to me since 5 years.

2) This property is owned by be since 5 years.

Similarly for past passive construction

    1) This property was belonged to me for 5 years.
2) This property was owned by be for 5 years.

My question is why we can’t use this as above? Does it change the meaning of sentence?

  • what about "This property has belonged to me since 5 years ago." ?
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 10:02
  • or X belongs/belonged to me
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 10:02
  • Belong is a verb, and own is a pronoun/adjective. Was does not work with verbs. Verbs use has. Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 10:05
  • If you want to highlight duration of your ownership, you'd better use past perfect continuous. However, because own and belong are state verbs , you should not use continuous tenses. Ultimately, you can use Present perfect to show the length of the ownership.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 10:52
  • You cannot use since with a timespan: since is used with a specific point in time to define a timespan stretching from that point to the time you are currently talking about. Commented Aug 17, 2015 at 12:00

1 Answer 1


The "rule" you refer to is badly formulated.

  • It is not true that BE cannot be used with any of these verbs; most of those which are transitive (that is, they take an object—own, possess, for instance) can be cast in the passive construction, BE + VERB past participle.

    okI own this car. → okThis car is owned by me, but driven by my son.

    It is true, however, that passive constructions with these verbs are pretty rare; in particular, we almost never cast possessive have in the passive voice. In the present tense we prefer to employ these verbs in the active voice, because in most circumstances we feel that current ownership is a quality of the owner, not of the thing owned. We're more tolerant of passive constructions in the past tense. Ownership 'feels' more like a quality of an object when we're speaking of its history:

    okThis grand mansion was once possessed by Lord Derby.
    okThis car was owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church on Sundays.

    Belong is a different matter. Belong cannot be cast in the passive voice, because the passive moves the semantic object into the subject role and belong is an intransitive—it does not take an object—so there is no object to move.

  • It is true that that we do not usually use BE to cast these verbs in the progressive construction BE + VERB present participle. This is true not just of verbs of possession, but all stative verbs: verbs which express an enduring state rather than an event or action. The primary function of the progressive construction is to "recast" an eventive verb as stative so that we can speak of the verb's action as enduring over time; but there is no need to do this with stative verbs, which have that enduring sense built in to their meaning.

    Possession is a state, not an event, so most verbs of possession are stative. Consequently, they are not usually employed in progressive construction.

    I am owning this car.
    Lord Derby was once possessing this grand mansion.

marks an utterance as unacceptable.

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