Has been vs. had been

Hi, I’ve just come across the following sentence and I wonder if has been could or should be replaced by had been:

Amsterdam has been the seat of government for only a short period. From 1808 to 1810, during the Kingdom of Holland, Louis Bonaparte resided in Amsterdam and declared the city capital of his kingdom. The former town hall was made the Royal Palace.

Thanks in advance,

TOEIC listening, talks: Giving driving advice on safe driving to summer vacationers[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

Assuming that “short period” refers to 1808-1810, why not use “was”.


Right Amy, past simple is probably even better here.

TOEIC listening, talks: Starting a new employee orientation program[YSaerTTEW443543]

Could I just add that, in my opinion, the past perfect would be wrong in this sentence? It refers to the history of the town, up to the present. That’s why a Present Perfect would also be correct, as I understand it.

Hi Conchita

I agree with you there. I also think the present perfect is possible. I guess I just don’t like the present perfect that much in combination with a “one-time” event in the past. I’d probably have been happier using present perfect in that sentence if Amsterdam had been the seat of government at least twice in its history.

But that may just be a reflection of my American preference for using the simple past tense whenever possible. :lol:


Hi fellow scribes,

This question is a bit of a tease. Apart from having a knowledge of Dutch history, which in my case is pretty scant, you have to decide whether this city is/was/has been the seat of government. As it isn’t, you could imagine Amsterdam being for a period of its existence the seat of government. In which case you have to picture Amsterdam chirping up and saying: Look, I don’t know whether you know but actually I have been the seat of government in my time, as a matter of fact. That strikes me as a bit far-fetched - I don’t mean Amsterdam with the gift of speech but the reference in this context to information that it has been the seat of government - sort of by the way. So I think present perfect is a no no. The fact that there is a reference to the time when Boney made it the top city ie 1808-10 persuades me that we need was to match up with resided/declared/was made.

With that I rest my case.