Has Been Done vs. Was Done

Today we will have a quick lesson on past verb tenses.

Bad Example:
24 new wells have been drilled in 2012.

There are two things wrong with this sentence. First, you should never start a sentence with a numeral. Either spell out “Twenty-four” (yes, that’s hyphenated), or add a word or two before the numeral, such as “About 24” or “In total, 24.”

The second thing wrong with this sentence is that the passive verb tense used here should be simple past (was done), not present perfect (has been done).

Corrected Example
In total, 24 new wells were drilled in 2012.

Let’s do another one, this time with a plural subject.

Bad Example:
Core porosities have been measured last year. (have been done)

Corrected Example:
Core porosities were measured last year. (were done)

Here is the explanation:
“Has been done” is a present perfect passive tense, which should be used for an action that happened at an unspecified time in the past. You should not use this tense when the time is specified. Use the simple past passive “was done” instead.

Bad Example:
The well has been completed last week and brought on production.

Corrected Example:
The well was completed last week and brought on production.

Here’s a quiz question:
The castle ……… built in the 15th century.
A)      was
B)      has been

Correct answer is A, “was built,” because the time is specified (15th century).
“Was built” is the passive form of the simple past tense, whereas “has been built” is the passive form of the present perfect tense, which is not appropriate because the sentence mentions that the action was completed at a specific time in the past. Use the simple past tense (was done) for that.

Now that you know the rule, here is a practice quiz for you on this topic:

Profound Quotes of the Day:
“When one has success, the answer is not to undo that success. It is to continue what has been done.”
– Charles Schumer, US Senator, NY-D, b. 1950

“I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.
– Buddha, sage of the Shakya Republic, 563-483 BC

2 Responses to “Has Been Done vs. Was Done”

  1. petrocomputing Says:

    Very useful tip. I did the exam and I got 12/16. I still make mistakes between “is done”, “was done”.

    Abdulaziz Alzaabi, Oman

  2. petrocomputing Says:

    Jeanne, this is great. I “have been waiting” for someone to explain this to me!

    Hisham Zubari, Bahrain

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