What is the difference between "is sent" and "was sent"?

  1. To Learn English profile image61
    To Learn Englishposted 8 years ago

    What is the difference between "is sent" and "was sent"?

    When I send email by using Gmail, I see the notification that the email "was sent". Shouldn't it be the email "is sent"? As I have sent email just a moment ago. What is the difference between "is sent" and "was sent"? Please explain with an example.

  2. Kathleen Cochran profile image80
    Kathleen Cochranposted 8 years ago

    "is" is present tense and "was" is past tense, which you obviously know.  In this world of instant everything, I guess it just takes a moment to be in the past.

  3. junkseller profile image80
    junksellerposted 8 years ago

    A past participle is a verb form which is used to form passive and perfect tenses and can also be used as an adjective.

    English has many irregular verbs. These are verbs in which the different tenses aren't formed as normal, which typically for past participles would be by adding -ed. For SEND that would make the odd word SENDED, so Instead its past participle form is SENT.

    In English there are active and passive voices. In an active sentence, the entity performing the action is the subject of the sentence and comes before the verb. This structure generally has an object being acted on which follows the verb. The general format is therefore Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). In the sentence DAVE BROKE THE WINDOW, The subject, DAVE, is the one carrying out the action of breaking the object, the WINDOW. This is an active voice.

    In a passive voice the entity having the action performed on it comes before the verb and the entity carrying out the action, if present, will follow the verb. THE WINDOW WAS BROKEN BY DAVE. In this case the action is still being done by DAVE but the order is reversed. This is a passive voice so uses the past participle form of broke (BROKEN).

    There is also something called a stative passive in which the word following the BE verb is used as an adjective to designate a state of being. In the sentence THE WINDOW WAS BROKEN, we could consider BROKEN to be identifying the window's state rather than identifying an action being carried out. Because in this sense we are describing a state which may still exist we can use the present tense: THE WINDOW IS BROKEN. This simply means that at this current moment in time the state of the window is broken.

    Similarly you could say your sentence in either way. THE EMAIL WAS SENT or THE EMAIL IS SENT. Both can be correct. The first (a regular passive) means that in the past the action of sending the email was completed. The second (a stative passive) means that the current state of the email is that it has been sent. If you were to add anything else to the sentence, such as a time frame, then you might have to choose one or the other. For example if you wanted to add that it was sent two hours ago, then you would have to use the first construction since your meaning is obviously an action versus a state. So it would be THE EMAIL WAS SENT TWO HOURS AGO and not THE EMAIL IS SENT TWO HOURS AGO. Gmail's usage is as an action which happened in the past (even if it was only a few seconds), so uses WAS.


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