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    #1

    I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    In the sentence 'I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.'

    In view of consistency, we usually will choose WAS, but sometimes I think IS is also OK, because the fact's status of being true is not past!

    What do you think?

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Use "is" - the fact is still true now.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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    #3

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Thank you. But why must the past tense used here?: 1949 was the year in which China collapsed.

    The year 1949 of course is past, but the status of being true is, agian, not past.

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    #4

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Thank you. But why must the past tense used here?: 1949 was the year in which China collapsed
    NOT A TEACHER

    I think that this sentence also works with "is". The choice of tense would depend on the tense used in the rest of the text.

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    #5

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    I am interested in history, and I read many books on this subject; whenever a year is mentioned, it is WAS but not IS.

    Could anyone think of a situation IS is used?

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    #6

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    In Oxford Advanced 8th, a sentence: It was Chaucer who really turned English into a literary language.

    In what situation can WAS be turned into IS?

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    #7

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post

    Could anyone think of a situation IS is used?
    Here's one example:

    1817 is the year which Louis XVIII., with a certain royal assurance which was not wanting in pride, entitled the twenty-second of his reign. It is the year in which M. Bruguiere de Sorsum was celebrated.
    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo: Chapter I. The Year 1817

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    #8

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Is the historical present being used here?

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    #9

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Is the historical present being used here?
    The 'historical present' is simply a label, an attempt to slot one usage of the present tense into a helpful category. "In 1817 Louis XVIII writes to the Czar" is an example of this - using the present tense for a clearly past event.

    I don't think that "1817 is the year which Louis XVIII, with a certain royal assurance which was not wanting in pride, entitled the twenty-second of his reign" really fits into that category, but others may disagree. I think that the writer plucks 1817 from a list of years; as such "1817" exists in the present. Had the 'was' been 'is' and 'entitled' been 'entitles', then s/he would have been using a 'historical present'

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    #10

    Re: I tried to do so several times, but the fact is/was that I failed.

    You could simplify the whole issue by saying "I tried to do so several times but [I] failed".
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

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