Difference Between Were and Had Been

Were vs Had Been
 

Difference between were and had been is distinct. As a result, were and had been are used differently in English grammar when it comes to their usage. However, when used in a certain context, the verbs, were and had been, give a close meaning that makes the confusion. This will be addressed adequately with the aid of examples to make this fact clear. The auxiliary verb were is the plural form of the verb ‘be’ in past tense. On the other hand, the form had been is used in past perfect continuous tense. It is, in fact, the past perfect continuous tense form of the present perfect continuous tense form ‘has been’. This is the main difference between the two words. This article attempts to present to you the different instances when these two words, were and had been are used and the different meanings they give in those contexts.

What does Were mean?

The auxiliary verb were is the plural form the verb be in the past tense. To be means usually to exist. Observe the two sentences given below.

They were tired.

The students were happy when they saw the new books in the library.

In both the sentences, the word were is used in the past tense of the two sentences ‘they are tired’ and ‘the students are happy when they see the new books in the library’ respectively.

Difference Between Were and Had Been

What does Had Been mean?

Had been is used in the past perfect continuous tense. Observe the two sentences given below.

They had been living in this house for a long time.

She had been writing for quite a long time.

In both the sentences, you can see that the word had been is used in the past perfect continuous tense. By using the word had been both sentences are given the idea that the actions of living and writing have been going on for a long time.

Now, if you replace had been with were, you will see that the meaning changes completely. Then, the sentence becomes,

They were in this house for a long time.

Here, you understand the action is already over. They are no longer there. However, in the past perfect continuous form (had been), the meaning implied they were still living in the said period of the past. It is interesting to note that as the past perfect form had been is sometimes used to convey the meaning of ‘visited’ as in the sentences given below.

I had been to London twice.

She had been to my house before.

In both the sentences, you can find that the word had been is used in the sense of ‘visited.’ Hence, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘I visited London twice’, and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘she visited my house before’.

The past perfect form had been is sometimes used in the sense of ‘in case’ or ‘suppose’ as in the sentences given below.

Had you been in this situation before, you would have realized the truth by now.

Had she been in her house when you went, she would have received you with respect.

In both the sentences, you can find that the word had been is used in the sense of ‘in case.’ Therefore, the meaning of the first sentence would be ‘in case you were in this situation before, you would have realized the truth by now’, and the meaning of the second sentence would be ‘in case she was in her house when you went, she would have received you with respect.

What is the difference between Were and Had Been?

• The auxiliary verb were is the plural form of the verb ‘be’ in past tense.

• On the other hand, the form had been is used in past perfect continuous tense.

• Had been is, in fact, the past perfect continuous tense form of the present perfect continuous tense form ‘has been’.

• As the past perfect form had been is sometimes used to convey the meaning of ‘visited.’

• The past perfect form had been is sometimes used in the sense of ‘in case’ or ‘suppose.’

• Were implies that an action is already completed as it is simple past, but had been implies that an action was going on in the said period of the past when it is used in the past perfect continuous tense.

These are the differences between the two words, namely, were and had been.