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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > is written or was written    

is written or was written


is written or was written
which is correct?

Romeo and Juliet is written by Shakespeare. or 
Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare.

is one of those sentences wrong? can anyone tell me the rules for this? 
thanks a lot!

13 Aug 2009      

United States

was written --it happened in the past and won�t repeat. 

13 Aug 2009     


I always use the present simple in literature.  I also encourage my students to answer literature questions in the present simple tense - so is written will be the correct answer.

13 Aug 2009     

United Kingdom

Was written, as Douglas says.  When writing about characters/events/action however, the present simple is used (the work of literature exists in the present; its characters come alive each time the work is read) so Romeo and Juliet fall in love...  Romeo kills Tybalt.... Juliet agrees to Friar Lawrence �s plan...

13 Aug 2009     


Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet => Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare.

13 Aug 2009     


I agree with ballycastle1 and mariaelaine.
Shakespeare  wrote Romeo and Juliet  in the 20th century.- It was written in the 20th century


Romeo and Juliet is written by Shakespeare.

Take a look: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/writing/resources/Literary%20present%20tense.pdf

Have a great day!

13 Aug 2009     


Great link donapeter - thanx! 

13 Aug 2009     


I agree with Douglas and Tere.

A novel can either be "was written" / "is being written" / "was being written" / "had been written"... BUT not too often "is written" - especially if it´s 500 years old!!

The reason behind that is once the book is completed, it is done, finished. It is now a past event.  

13 Aug 2009     


We use the passive voice in the present tense (is+ P.P) when we are talking about repetitive actions in the present. Because Shakespeare isn �t repetitively writing the book, which is impossible anyway 1) because he is dead, 2) because you can �t repetitively write the same book, we can �t use the passive in the present.

Shakespeare wrote the book in the past. We are talking about a completed action in the past, so we use the passive voice in the past form (waswere + P.P)

13 Aug 2009     

Sara Almeida

"Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare."

13 Aug 2009     


past participle of some verbs are the noun forms. such as

drunk is the past participle of drink whereas it �s a noun used for a person who drank alcohol and therefore drunk.
the past participle of the verb "written" can be accepted as a noun and the meaning  changes.
"romeo and juliet is written by shakespeare "
But the main determinant here is "by". "By" is commonly used in passive so that �s why "romeo and juliet is written by shakespeare " sounds more grammatic.

13 Aug 2009     

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