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How do the tenses in English correspond temporally to one another?

I don't know which form is better to use, when telling a user that his message was/has been deleted (in the sense that the message was not appropriate/against the rules e.g. in the comment section etc.).

  • 1
    Although there are nuances that make these two sentences mean slightly different things, the choice is immaterial because in both cases the user will understand that the message is gone because someone decided to delete it because it violated some rule or other. No user will care whether you use past simple or past perfect, not even a pedant like myself. I'll be pissed off by the content, not the grammar of the message.
    – user21497
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 8:56

2 Answers 2


I would use the sentence

Your message has been deleted.

if I am telling the users right after their message has been deleted. (Like a little notification superimposes on the screen for a few seconds before fading away, something similiar to what happen when you try to upvote your own question.)

But I would use

Your message was deleted

like this page as they search for their long-gone message.


The past tense, as in Your message was deleted relates an action to a particular time in the past. The present perfect construction, as in Your message has been deleted, doesn’t do this, but rather describes the situation now. In the circumstances in which this would need to be said, the second might therefore be more appropriate.

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