Could you please tell me the difference between "has" vs "has been".

For example:

1) the idea has deleted


2) the idea has been deleted

What is the difference between these two?


2 Answers 2


Let's look at a few more sentences in the same tense (present perfect) as your first example:

Mary has eaten the cake.

I have finished the report.

Someone has taken my phone.

In each case the first phrase of the sentence is the doer of the action (Mary does the eating, I do the finishing, someone does the taking.)

From this it is clear that your first example does not make sense (although it is grammatically correct). An idea cannot do the deleting. It does make sense, however, to say: Someone has deleted the idea (actually, deleted the file would be a better example).

Your second sentence, on the other hand, is both grammatical and makes sense. It is in the passive form of the same tense. If we convert the examples above to the passive, then we get:

The cake has been eaten (by Mary).

The report has been finished (by me).

My phone has been taken (by someone).

Your second sentence fits in here:

The file has been deleted (by somebody).

We use the passive like this when we want to shift the focus of the sentence away from the doer of the action. Maybe we don't know who did the action, or it is obvious, or we don't care who did it. The passive allows us to focus on what happened and does not require us to mention the doer.

  • 1
    There's one other way to address this, and that's when you want to emphasize that something is still going on. For example: Mary has been eating the cake (hopefully, she'll leave some for me!); someone has been taking my phone (it keeps disappearing); I have been finishing the report (it's taken longer than I thought – I hope to have it finished soon!). In all three cases, the action has started, is ongoing through the present time, and the verbs end with "-ing" (also known as the continuous tense).
    – J.R.
    Commented Jul 27, 2013 at 22:50

I totally agree with @Shoe. By saying "the idea has deleted" suggests that the idea has deleted something, so it doesn't make much sense. On the other hand, by saying "the idea has been deleted" suggests that the idea has been deleted by someone/somebody (even if it is not possible to delete an idea).

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