General Writing and Grammar Help/became vs. has been


Hi Martha,
I'm baffled by something in a sentence I'm writing.  See below.  I'm also showing you the sentence prior to the one I'm questioning so that you can see the overall context of what I'm trying to say.

Nancy's spinal cord was severed in a car accident in 1982.  Since then, she became wheelchair bound.
OR Since then, she has been wheelchair bound.

I also ponder "since" because it might not mean"at the moment of the accident and on"  vs.  at some point in time after the accident.  I'm trying to show from the accident and on.

OR - another way to go about this might be to just say -
Pat was permanently paralyzed from a car accident in 1982.
(Martha - I hesitate to use this because "paralyzed" can mean various parts of the body and thus it's not as specific to the wheelchair use as the above examples.)  

Thanks for your help.

=Since [whatever]= is something that has happened at one point in time and is on-going.  I don't think you have to differentiate between the few seconds of commission and the long-term effect.  =Since= is ok here.  (If you're talking about the Big Bang Theory, then, yes, you need to differentiate, but not here!)


You actually have a problem with =has been/became=, and I think this might be confusing the quandary about =since=.

You should use =was wheelchair-bound= [note hyphen needed].  Or, if you are emphasizing the on-going nature of the injury result, use =has been=.  


You also could say =as a result=.  This emphasizes the aftermath of the accident, which I think is your goal.  In fact, I think this is the superior choice of the three.


Depending on your context and the possibly-insensitive nature of =paralyzed=, as you noted, I think =wheelchair-bound= is an excellent stand-in.

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Martha Beth Lewis


I will answer questions having to do with grammar, plurals, punctuation, capitalization, mood, person, tense, and so on, as well as word usage and word choice. If you want a quick answer to a specific question, particularly if you wish to use formal American English for business or academic purposes (MLA), I can give you a timely response. I also can address word choice, clarity, structure, and similar concerns involving English as a second language. If you want advice of a deeper editorial nature (e.g., substantive [line] editing), please consult an Expert who offers this sort of assistance; I do not offer this sort of assistance.


I was employed as an editor for the graduate school at a major U.S. university and specialized in dissertations. I have over 200 publications in professional journals, consumer magazines, and newspapers. I am the author of five books and numerous syllabi in an arts field. I also am a freelance line editor, copy editor, and proofreader (over 40 years), and I have written or edited countless community organizations' newsletters and promotional materials.

Note: When using a word as a word in a sentence, such as: Put a period after the word dog, =dog= should be set in italics. Since I do not have access to italics here, I shall use = on either side of the word or phrase that properly should appear in italics. For the above example: Put a period after the word =dog=. Also, ~~please do not mark your questions as private~~. I will change them to public because I don't want to type the same answer twice! Thanks for your understanding.

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