I just read the following sentence in the text book New Concept English:

A public house which was recently bought by Mr. Thompson is up for sale.

My question is, how is it different from saying

A public house which has been recently bought by Mr. Thompson is up for sale.

In other words, if the present perfect is used instead of the simple past, what are the differences?

Lastly, how is either different from saying:

A public house which Mr. Thompson bought is up for sale.


2 Answers 2


In British English, "recently" will have to go with the present perfect. In American English, it can go with both the past simple (was) and the present perfect.

The third sentence doesn't tell us when Mr. Thompson bought the public house. It could have been a long time ago, or maybe recently--we don't know.


The last sentence avoids the passive voice, which makes it a bit easier to understand. (Normally the passive voice is used to emphasize the object of an action, but you are already doing this by making it the subject of the sentence in which your subordinate clause is contained.) In writing, I would also consider adding:

A public house, which Mr. Thompson [had] recently bought, is up for sale.

If you wanted to talk about a particular public house, and one with which your audience is already well acquainted, you might prefer to use the passive voice. This allows the sentence to stand in for two different sentences for which the public house is the subject, and so emphasizes it as an object whose ownership is being transferred multiple times.

The public house, which had [only] recently been bought by Mr. Thompson, is up for sale [again].

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