“The report said that the Schaku coupler had broken and this led to the derailment, resulting in the death of my son and injuries to several others,“

Ref. link: http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/Article.aspx?eid=31821&articlexml=Case-against-CR-officers-for-death-due-to-05102015009015

As per my knowledge above sentence should be in past perfect as passive voice i.e. should be use coupler had been broken.

My explanation:

If we use only had then it mean coupler must have broken by itself which is not possible. some doer has to be there to broke it.

Another E.g. He had broken my Toy, which angered me a lot

And if we use had been Then it mean coupler must have broken by someone. It may have broken by miscreant or climate like overheating etc. It should be passive voice.

Another E.g. My toy had been broken by him, which angered me a lot

If boken is used as adjective then it should be was broken

Or It should be like

“The report said that the Schaku had broken coupler and this led to the derailment, resulting in the death of my son and injuries to several others,“

Please help

3 Answers 3


Your reasoning is on the right track, in that "had been broken" often would be read as implying agency or intent. However, had broken is perfectly correct here. In fact, you do not go far enough: if the article had said "had been broken," most native speakers would assume that some individual had broken it. There are some definite subtleties here, however.

First, let us recall that some verbs can be both transitive and intransitive. Broke is in fact one such verb. Either a subject can break an object, or an object can break, similar to how one can eat dinner or simply eat. However, since the subject is the physical recipient of the action in the first case, it is not so easy to see.

There are two ways that this sentence could be written, with three interpretations.

The coupler had broken.

Really, this the past perfect way of saying it broke. No agency implied.

The coupler had been broken.

In most contexts, this would imply that some human had broken it. However, in this context, it would not:

The coupler had been broken for a while.

In this case, broken is merely an adjective, not a past participle, and thus refers to a state, not an action. No intent is implied.

That said, this is Indian English, which is dialectically distinct from the version I speak, so certain rules might be a little different.

  • 1
    "Broken" is an adjective in that context. Compare, e.g. "This is melted." Here "melted" is an adjective, e.g. melted chocolate, melted rubber. Indeed, "was broken" could be correct in certain contexts. However, it has the same ambiguity: "was broken for a while" or "was broken by him, her, etc." The distinction is between conjugations of "to break" (the first example) and "to be broken" (the second two). My explanation stands.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 2:22

The verb break is both intransitive and transitive verb that means to be damaged and separated into two or more pieces, or to damage and separate something into two or more pieces. For example:

The plate dropped to the ground and broke into pieces.

He dropped the plate to the ground and broke it.

The verb drop in the sentence "Schaku coupler had broken......" has been used as an intransitive verb".

So the use of "had broken" is grammatically correct.

  • I have edited question please check.
    – user4084
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 7:54
  • user4084, Please tell me about Schaku. Is it the name of a person?
    – Khan
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 16:01

I think you are right. 'Had been broken' sounds more natural for me.

  • 1
    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 5:55

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