Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    binsadan is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Saudi Arabia
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Posts
    12
    Post Thanks / Like

    Exclamation Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    Hello,

    What is the difference between saying:
    - I was told that I have to attend today.
    - I have been told that I have to attend today.


    I know both of these two sentences are passive voice and the first one is simple past and the second one is present perfect. But are they direct to the same meaning? In other word, are they changeable ?


    Thank you so much

  2. #2
    SlickVic9000's Avatar
    SlickVic9000 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    1,024
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    *Not a Teacher*

    Though they're different tenses, I'd say there's little difference in meaning between the two phrases. I just can't think of a context where I'd particularly favor one over the other.

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    If I arrive somewhere and am then told that my attendance is required, I might protest, "I was told I have/had to attend today". The present perfect is unlikely there.

  4. #4
    M.Andrew's Avatar
    M.Andrew is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Saudi Arabia
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    22
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    "I was told..." The basic difference is that the time of the action is in the past, referring to a period of time that is now over. Remember: simple past and how it differs from present perfect? That still applies here.

    "I have been told..." can include that you have been told many times in the past, while the time you are speaking about remains open.

    Examples:

    Yesterday, I was told that I look looked like my father.

    I have also been told that I look like my mother. (intended time period left open, thus present perfect)

    The first indicates that I was told once.

    The second indicates that perhaps I have been told more than once.

    In British English, the present perfect is generally used often like the simple past.

    She hit me! Or: She's hit me!

    Americans would generally stick to the simple past for that expression

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    Quote Originally Posted by M.Andrew View Post
    "I was told..." The basic difference is that the time of the action is in the past, referring to a period of time that is now over. Remember: simple past and how it differs from present perfect? That still applies here.
    To an extent. However, with 'being told', I am inclined to agree with SlickVic: "Though they're different tenses, I'd say there's little difference in meaning between the two phrases."
    "I have been told..." can include that you have been told many times in the past, while the time you are speaking about remains open.
    It can, but this is not an essential meaning associated with the present perfect.
    Examples:

    Yesterday, I was told that I look looked like my father.
    I have also been told that I look like my mother. (intended time period left open, thus present perfect)

    The first indicates that I was told once.
    The second indicates that perhaps I have been told more than once.[
    Once again, this is not necessarily the case. The key factor in using the past tense in the first example was the decision to place the telling in the past - Yesterday. It's quite possible to say, "At the family reunion yesterday, I was told (by several people) that I looked like my father".
    In British English, the present perfect is generally used often like the simple past.
    It's perhaps more accurate to say that in BrE we tend to use the present perfect for very recent past events that may have some bearing on the present in situations when many speakers of AmE prefer the past simple - I've just seen Mary (BrE); I just saw Mary (AmE),
    She hit me! Or: She's hit me!

    Americans would generally stick to the simple past for that expression
    In that particular example, I feel that many speakers of BrE would use a past simple if we were speaking immediately after the blow.

  6. #6
    jahildebrandt is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    59
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Have Been Told vs. Was Told

    Not a teacher.
    Quote Originally Posted by binsadan View Post
    What is the difference between saying:
    - I was told that I have to attend today.
    - I have been told that I have to attend today.
    To me, the first example shows that one was directly told that he or she needs to attend something, whereas the second example seems more like hearsay. It's less direct, less firm, almost as though the speaker may not believe or care about it. They seem more likely to blow off the engagement than in the first example.

Similar Threads

  1. When I'm told or being told
    By ostap77 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 18-Apr-2011, 12:41
  2. I was told
    By Offroad in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 24-Nov-2009, 02:37
  3. [General] As I told you
    By phorntita in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 30-Sep-2009, 00:27
  4. tell/told
    By GUEST2008 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 20-Jun-2009, 21:13
  5. Difference between 'was told' and 'had been' told ?
    By kssujith2005 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 16-Mar-2008, 14:16

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •