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Here are two sentences that look pretty similar:

  1. The book was written by Hugo.
  2. The book has been written by Hugo.

Each of them says that the action has been already performed in the past in passive voice. What I can't understand is the exact difference between the meaning of these two sentences. When is it better or more suitable to use passive voice of past simple versus passive voice of the present perfect?

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I'd say that 1) could be anytime in the (distant) past and 2) could be more recently to just finished today –  mplungjan May 7 '13 at 7:38
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They're both passive voice; that's why they look similar: they have the same structure. It's not possible to contrast passive voice with present perfect: they're two different categories, apples & oranges. One's a voice (passive vs active) & the other's a tense (present) & and aspect (perfect). I won't get into how many tenses there are or anything else, but I will say that before you ask a question, your should research the terms. –  user21497 May 7 '13 at 8:04
    
-1 This isn't a real question because it's illogical & doesn't make sense. Please rewrite the question so that it's logical. Ask for a comparison of the simple present & the present perfect (two oranges) in the passive voice (one apple). –  user21497 May 7 '13 at 8:08
    
ı think both are correct But I mainly use the first one –  user43840 May 7 '13 at 8:19
    
You might be interested in our suster site: English Language Learners –  Matt Эллен May 8 '13 at 12:04

4 Answers 4

You're comparing apples to oranges. Your choice of whether to use the passive voice is not a choice that relates to tense. You don't make a choice between a voice and a tense; you make a choice between two voices, or between two tenses.

The choice of voices is between active and passive. In general, the active voice is more direct and powerful, and aligns the reader with the subject of the sentence. ("He wrote the book" draws attention to the person who wrote the book, more than to the book.) The passive voice, on the other hand, is softer, and more languid, and places the emphasis on the object of the verb rather than the subject. ("The book was written by him" places the reader's attention on the book, rather than on the author.)

In your examples, the first one indicates a completed action (he's through writing the book), whereas the second indicates something that was going on in the past and is possibly still going on now or at least was going on fairly recently. So it's simple: Choose your tense based on whether the action is done, or more continuous in nature.

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The first is past tense, passive voice. The second is present perfect tense, passive voice. –  Peter Shor May 7 '13 at 12:50

For decades I pondered this very question. Here is what I think the differences are:

  • was written: Hugo was done writing the book and he would no longer participate in anything related to writing the book. He's done, so to speak. It also implies the timing of the action is in the more distant past.

  • has been written: Hugo from time to time writes the book. At the moment, he has stopped writing it. He may come back to write it again; who knows? It may also have other contributors. The timing is in the more recent past.

The difference lies in the hint and the atmosphere of the timing, and Hugo's schedule of writing the book.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

After some research job, I finally arranged passive voice form of all past tenses in English.
Actually, it's much more logically and simply, than I thought.

Now, in order to use correct form of passive voice you have to decide which time is more suitable for your context and use its the relevant form.

Passive voice of the past tenses:

  1. Past Simple
    — The book was written by Hugo.
  2. Past Continuous
    — The book was being written by Hugo.
  3. Present Perfect
    — The book has been written by Hugo.
  4. Present Perfect Continuous
    — The book has been being written by Hugo.
  5. Past Perfect
    — The book had been written by Hugo.
  6. Past Perfect Continuous
    — The book had been being written by Hugo.

Thanks to — http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/verbtenseintro.html

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Logically they are both equivalent. Stylistically, the perfect tense one gives a more intimate feeling. The simple past passive states a fact.

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