Which is correct:

Florence is built on both sides of the Arno River.


Florence was built on both sides of the Arno River.

Source: The ILI English Series, Intermediate 1 Workbook, Page 56

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Florence was built on both sides of the Arno River.
Florence is built on both sides of the Arno River.

Both are acceptable. Past participles with BE may be parsed in two ways: as components of the passive construction or as predicate adjectivals.

In the first example, built is understood as a component of the passive construction: the sentence asserts a past event.

In the second example, built acts as an adjectival: the sentence asserts a current state.

Note that although a simple present will usually designate a state and a simple past will usually designate an event, it is the entire discourse context, not the tense of the auxiliary, which determines which interpretation is to be applied. Passive built may be employed in the present tense:

New US suburbs are built mostly by developers.

And adjectival built may be employed in the past tense:

Ancient Rome was built mostly of brick.

Note, too, that these parsings are not necessarily exclusive. The name 'participle' designates an entity which 'partakes' of the nature of two different categories simultaneously, and in some circumstances both the adjectival and verbal properties of a past participle will be present. As Cardinal points out in the comments, saying that something is made of a particular substance implies an adjectival parsing; but this may occur in a context which is also clearly passive, such as that cited by nekomatic where the by phrase designates the agent of a passive construction:

Ewelme palace, in Oxfordshire, was built of brick by William Delapole, in the reign of Henry VI. (my emphasis)

  • I totally agree, but, so far, I have never seen a piece of writing in which the author have used "built of" to convey passive tense, regardless of past or present. Similarly in the case of "made of" – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 11:12
  • @Cardinal you mean passive voice? google.co.uk/search?q=%22was+built+of+brick%22 has plenty of examples in the first page. Or am I misunderstanding your point somehow? – nekomatic Jun 10 '16 at 11:36
  • @nekomatic I mean that, as far as I know, build of and made of have adjectival connotation! regardless of the present or the past. Perhaps, I am wrong – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 11:41
  • 1
    @Cardinal That's right: built of, with no further qualification, 'defaults' to an adjectival interpretation. However, you could have of with a clear passive, too: This house was built of brick by union masons. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 10 '16 at 11:47
  • 1
    From one of the links found by that search: 'Ewelme palace, in Oxfordshire, was built of brick by William Delapole, in the reign of Henry VI'. 'Was built' is the passive form of the verb; 'of brick', 'by William Delapole', and 'in the reign of Henry VI' are adverb phrases. – nekomatic Jun 10 '16 at 11:49

use past tense because the building process of Florence was hundreds years ago.

  • 1
    "These old houses are built of stone." Source: Cambridge English Dictionary – Mori Jun 10 '16 at 9:14
  • @Mori here, "build" is acting as an adjective. I mean your comment – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 9:15
  • @not always! are is a linking verb. After linking verb you can use adjectives. for example, I am disappointed of English ! – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 9:25
  • @mori Past participle is a participle! It participates in several things. one of them is in passive structures. – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 9:28
  • @Sina Do you agree built of stone is describing sth ? So it is somehow an adjective ! It has different meaning if you use "by" rather "of" ! – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 10:05

Both sentences are correct but have sligtly different meanings.

Sentence "Florence was built on both sides of Arno Rinver." is focused to the past. It slightly implies that building of Florence or the connection between Florence and Arno River is over. I think more suitable sentences are "Pompeii was built under the Mount Vesuvius." or "Florence was founded on both sides of arno River."

Sentence "Florence is built on both sides of Arno River" is focused to the present. Ith slightly implies that Florence was and still is on both sides of Arno River.

Sentence "Florence is being built on both sides of Arno River." imply that there was no Florence and that the construction is happening now.


Your question:

Florence is built on both sides of the Arno River.


Florence was built on both sides of the Arno River.

You are asking which sentence is correct. The building process of Florence was finished long time ago. So, you can't use 'is' in the sentence if you want to use past tense. However, 'was built' implies that Florence was built by someone else. Look at the following sentences:

  1. John ordered Daisy to go to the market.

  2. Daisy was ordered to go to the market.

The first sentence is active voice statement. The second sentence is passive. In passive voice sentence, we can guess that Daisy was ordered by someone else to go to the market. Your passive voice sentence (Number 2 sentence) also has been used in this sense.

  • Do you mean : ... was built by someone else ? – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 9:59
  • How do you describe this google.com/… – user33000 Jun 10 '16 at 10:13
  • It is idiomatic. to build sth on sth == to base something on something which is a phrasal verb that is used usually in passive tense – Cardinal Jun 10 '16 at 10:20
  • @Cardinal Don't take it personal. But you're in no way helping to answer this question. – user33000 Jun 10 '16 at 10:41
  • @yubraj sharma what I am saying is that: don't say using "is" is not correct. – user33000 Jun 10 '16 at 10:42

Its question about logic.

It is build so it exists still.

It was built and then removed or maybe still exists.

It is build beeing right now- still in construction.

It was built 2 times.

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