had been sent/was sent

Discussion in 'English Only' started by NickJunior, Sep 27, 2008.

  1. NickJunior Senior Member

    Amérique du Nord
    Cambodgien
    Hello Forum,

    I am confused between had been sent and was sent. Say I want to tell a friend that I already sent a letter to him twice but he has never replied. So can I say as follow:

    1) The letter had been sent to you twice?

    2) The letter was sent to you twice?

    Thanks.
     
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Neither version pleases me because it uses the passive voice, even it each version is grammatically correct.

    I would likely write "I sent the letter to you twice."
     
  3. Mr.X Senior Senior Member

    Singapore
    Burmese & English (2nd Language)
    In English , passive past perfect ( had been sent ) tense is usually use when there is another time frame in the same sentence. Eg.

    The letter had been sent to you twice before your wife called me.

    In this example, there were two time frames ( or activities ). The letter was sent before his wife called.

    Passive simple past is used when the speaker wants to say definate time frame as in :

    The letter was sent to you twice.

    I hope it helps you to clear.
     
  4. b1947420 Senior Member

    "I have sent a letter to you twice" meaning that the two individual actions of sending the letter are completed in the past.
     
  5. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Timeline time again.


    The past ... ... ... Time A ... ... ... The Present

    "The letter was sent to you twice."
    "I sent the letter to you twice."
    Some time between The Past and The Present, the letter was sent twice.

    "The letter had been sent to you twice."
    "I had sent the letter to you twice."
    Some time between The Past and Time A, the letter was sent twice.
    When was Time A?
    That must have been made clear in the context before this statement could be made.
     
  6. Au101 Senior Member

    London
    England, English (UK)
    Hi, "the letter has been sent" also works.
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    What do you mean "... also works"? That sentence (with a capital letter) is correct, but some explanation is necessary.

    In this thread we are concerned about a letter that was sent on two occasions.

    The letter has been sent (to you) twice.
    On two occasions, before now, the letter was sent to you.
     
  8. Au101 Senior Member

    London
    England, English (UK)
    Whoops, sorry for the misunderstanding, I meant to say

    "The letter has been sent to you twice."

    I meant it as a substitution, but it didn't really make sense alone, sorry.
     

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