ransacked vs has been ransacked

Hi everyone,

Which one of the following sentences is correct?

  1. When he reached home, he found his house ransacked
  2. When he reached home, he found his house has been ransacked

I found no. 1 sentence in today newspaper, and wonder is it correct or not.

Number 1 is correct. (That was the state of his house when he got home)
Number 2 should be ‘…he found his house had been ransacked’. (That is what happened while he was out)
They can usually be used interchangeably.

Okay. I’m just wondering why the first sentence is correct since ‘ransacked’ without ‘had been’ in that sentence seems to be in active voice…
Can I say in another example, “I came home and found my house cleaned by my father”?

This is complicated, but there is such a thing in English as a “small clause”. It has a subject noun phrase followed by any other kind of phrase, but it has no auxiliary verb.

So “his house ransacked” is a small clause, where “his house” is the subject and it is followed by an adjective or past participle “ransacked”, but it has no auxiliary verbs and no tense. It means the same thing as “that his house had been ransacked”.

Other examples of small clauses (with the small clause in brackets) are:

“He went outside and saw [his shoes hanging from a tree].” (subject and verb)
“He opened the fridge and found [the oranges rotten].” (subject and adjective)
"They consider [Thai women beautiful]. (subject and adjective)
“I find [this book stupid].” (subject and adjective)
“We spotted [a criminal fleeing the location].” (subject and verb phrase)

Oh, thanks Beeesneees and Jamie! Now I got a better understanding on this… :smiley:

Hi Bev,

I’ve got a follow-up question, if I may.
Can we use the following sentence as an alternative to the original sentence (#1):

He reached home only to find his house ransacked.


You could use that, though the implication is that:
something happened which was unexpected on the way home (and which was probably bad luck as far as he was concerned)
he expected to find something very different upon his arrival home.

This implication is not present in the original message in this thread.


The use of 'only to find ’ in your sentence would usually be used to indicate a contrast between the first and second part as in:

He had to break into his own house only to discover that he had the door key with him all the time.


Hi Alan and Bev,

I see your point, thanks for your advice!