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"Have been" or "Was"

Updated: Sep 8, 2019




In fiction writing, it is encouraged to avoid the word ‘was’ as much as possible. However, it will be used several times in a novel written in past tense.


Below, I’ve given some examples when ‘has been’ or ‘have been’ should be used instead of 'was'.


Firstly, “had been” is preferably suited when it’s something that happened in the past and still applies in more than one instance.


“Was” often suits for something done in the past that no longer applies and it was a single event/occurrence.


Dinner had been at six o’clock each night this week.

Dinner was at six o’clock this evening.


It had been a dream come true. (And it continues to be viewed in this way.)


The Lavender Rose had been Cassie’s favorite design. (And still is a favorite.)

The Lavender Rose was Cassie’s favorite until she purchased the Lady Carlisle tea set.


The violin was the first to play. (Single event.)

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