Considering these two sentences in the past tense, using "never":

The film has never been released

The film was never released

Are they both correct? If so, is there a difference in the meaning, or usage?

  • There is no reason to think a never in there changes the difference (or lack of difference) between the simple past and the present perfect. "I ate my lunch" compared to "I have eaten my lunch"...
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 17:56
  • OK but I('ve) never said that. Commented Aug 13, 2013 at 19:29

2 Answers 2


The first, using the present perfect construction, relates the non-release of the film to the time of speaking or writing. It might continue with the words ‘up until now’. The second, using the past tense, places the non-release at some specific period or time in the past.

That said, the meaning depends very much on the context. For example, the second sentence might continue ‘during his lifetime’, and there might then be another sentence saying ‘But there are now plans to make it available to the public.’


They are both correct, and both can be used interchangeably.

The only difference I would read into it is that "was never" means the project is dead and it will never happen. Saying "has never been" implies, to my ear, that there's a chance it may happen someday.

In nearly any case, I'd say the difference is irrelevant.

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