What is the difference between " he was killed" and "he had been killed"?

Usagevoice of asked May 06 '13 at 08:35 isaac New member

3 answers


He was killed is Simple Past tense; He had been killed is Past Perfect tense.  Using the Simple Past would be the most common tense to use to talk about a past event.  For example: I had a brother and a sister, but my brother is dead.  He was killed in a car accident two years ago.  Using the Past Perfect would only be appropriate if you are connecting two past events, and his being killed was the earlier of the two past events.  For example: Last year, my sister re-married.  Her first husband had been killed in a car accident five years before.  I hope this helps.

link comment answered May 06 '13 at 11:09 Shawn Mooney Expert

Both of these are in passive voice, both refer to the past.

'He was killed.' is simple passive past tense. It means that he was killed sometime in the past in relation to the present.


'He had been killed.' is passive past perfect. It means that he was killed sometime in the past but in relation to another point of time in the past. It's a subtle difference, but if I add more context it may be clearer.


I went to see him last Wednesday, but he had been killed.

link comment answered May 06 '13 at 11:09 Lewis Neidhardt Grammarly Fellow

Could you explaine how to reference this in reference list by using APA style, 
Jeffrey M. Brunstrom, Jeremy F. Burn, Nicola R. Sell, Jane M. Collingwood, Peter
J. Rogers, Laura L. Wilkinson, Elanor C. Hinton, Olivia M. Maynard, and Danielle Ferriday
(2012) Episodic Memory and Appetite Regulation in Humans. PLoS ONE 7(12): e50707.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050707 (access at:  

link comment answered May 07 '13 at 02:01 yordanos DAGNE New member

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