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I know the verb is only used in formal language, but we're having a discussion on the use of it in the following sentence:

"The discharge of the cargo was commenced at 9 o'clock"

OR

"The discharge of the cargo commenced at 9 o'clock"

Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!

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We use it in law. You may say both :

  • Commenced is the simple preterit form which is the more usual ;
  • Was commenced is another past composed form : "the discharge of the cargo was commenced at 9 AM when customs' team went onboard for the sanitary inspection."
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  • Yes, both are fine: the difference is between an active and intransitive use (commenced) and a passive transitive one (was commenced), both alike in the simple past or preterit tense. – Brian Donovan Mar 8 '16 at 16:42

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