a) The train was left by then.


b) The train had left by then.

Could you tell me which alternative is correct?


b) The train had left by then.

Is correct for the most common usage.

a) The train was left by then.

is incorrect if you're trying to say the same thing as b.

However, A could be correct if the meaning is "the train was left behind":

My kid lost his toy train on one of your flights. He had it in Cincinnati, and several hours later we transferred to a different plane. The train was left by then.

  • 2
    Don't you mean The train had been left by then? – Edwin Ashworth Mar 7 '14 at 17:06

I personally suppose that the first variant is grammatically incorrect, as "was left' is an example of the passive voice (it makes no sense here), whereas past perfect fits in perfectly.


It's definitely

The train had left by then.

There's not many examples where

The train was left by then

would make sense. Perhaps in a convoluted story where a child was playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine toys, and had brought his Fat Controller figurine with him by the time the family left the area, but the Thomas train engine was left behind. Even that is a massive, massive stretch!

'The train was left by then' has a totally different meaning though. It has been 'left behind' in the same place rather than actually leaving to go to a different destination.


Both are correct, kind of. They make little sense without context however. One is active one is passive. It depends on what you want to express.


The train was left by then.

This is passive. So somebody else was doing the leaving to the train. This means the train is still there but nobody was around. People have left the train.


The train had left by then.

This is active. Meaning the train has done the leaving. The train has moved on and is no longer there.

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