'Is Used' or 'Has Been Used' or 'Was Used': Which is Correct?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on November 10, 2022

‘Is used,’ ‘has been used,’ and ‘was used’ all sound a lot alike, but they’re used in different scenarios. Wondering which ones? We’ll cover that below, plus teach you how to use the correct phrases in a sentence.

Don’t have a ton of time? The quick answer is:

  • ‘Is used’ is the present perfect tense.
  • ‘Has been used’ is the passive form of the present perfect tense.
  • ‘Was used’ is the past perfect tense.

You’d use each of these phrases when changing tenses.

Grammaticality – ‘Is Used’ Versus ‘Has Been Used’ Versus ‘Was Used’

As you just learned, all of these phrases are correct to say, but in different circumstances.

You know that they’re all in different tenses, which means they’d be used somewhat differently in a sentence, similar to the phrases ‘has been/have been/had been,’ ‘it has/it have,’ and ‘she has/she have.’

But before we get into that, let’s quickly define the common word.

Definition and Meaning

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of ‘use’ is “to put into action or service: avail oneself of: employ,” “to expend or consume by putting to use – often used with up,” “to consume or take (liquor, drugs, etc.) regularly,” “to carry out a purpose or action by means of utilizing,” “to behave toward: act with regard to: treat,” “used in the past with to indicate a former fact or state,” and “to take illicit drugs regularly.”

It’s also defined as “the act or practice of employing something,” “the fact or state of being used,” “a method or manner or employing or applying something,” “the privilege or benefit of using something,” “the ability or power to use something (such as a limb or faculty),” and “the legal enjoyment of property that consists in its employment, occupation, exercise, or practice.”


Synonyms for the word include:

  • Apply
  • Employ
  • Exercise
  • Exploit
  • Harness
  • Operate
  • Utilize

Past, Present, and Future Tenses

We learn that in writing, we can write in more than one tense.

The most basic forms are simple present, simple past, and simple future.

Here’s an example of that:

  • I walk every day. (simple present)
  • I walked yesterday. (simple past)
  • I will walk as much as I can. (simple future)

But there’s also present continuous, past continuous, and future continuous.

Here’s what that looks like:

  • I am reading in the afternoon every Sunday now. (present continuous)
  • I was reading Dial A for Aunties last night. (past continuous)
  • I will be reading Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory soon. (future continuous)

Then, there’s present perfect continuous, past perfect continuous, and future perfect continuous.

Take a look at some examples of that:

  • I have walked so many miles this year I’ve lost count. (present perfect)
  • I had walked over 1,000 miles by my 30th (past perfect)
  • I will have walked over 5,000 miles by the end of this year. (future perfect)

Finally, we have present perfect continuous, past perfect continuous, and future perfect continuous.

  • I have been running every day since I injured my knee in that accident. (present perfect continuous)
  • I had been jogging prior to that, but nothing like what I’m doing now. (past perfect continuous)
  • I will have been running for at least an hour before my meeting this evening. (future perfect continuous)

Now, take a look at how to use ‘is used,’ ‘has been used,’ and ‘was used’ in a sentence correctly.

How to Use All Three in a Sentence Correctly

Tenses can be tricky, but if you need a guide on how to use the above phrases correctly in a sentence, we’ve got you covered.

Take a look at how to use ‘is used’ in a sentence:

  • The sharpest knife is used to cut into tough fruits like pineapple.

Now, let’s look at how to use ‘been used’ in a sentence correctly:

  • My car has been used on movie sets multiple times before.

Check out ways to use ‘was used’ in a sentence correctly:

  • That shirt was used when I bought it on Friday, but you can hardly tell.

Final Thoughts on ‘Is Used,’ ‘Has Been Used,’ and ‘Was Used’

Remember how to use these phrases can be tough, especially if you’re learning English for the first time, especially phrases like ‘he and I/he and me’ and ‘he and I/him and I.’

Don’t be afraid to come back and have a dig through our library of confusing words. We’re rooting for you!

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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