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    Is/Was the first president?

    Someone told me that the only correct question would be: Who WAS the first president of the United States? Someone else told me there would be circumstances in which "Who IS the first president of the United States?" would be correct. Can you explain such circumstances? Thank you very much.

  2. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    Re: Is/Was the first president?

    I also think "Who was the first president." is correct, because it's past.
    In my opinion is could be used here:

    You have some cards/pictures of presidents (as a quiz or whatever).
    Then someone asks you:
    "Who is the first president?"
    But that's pretty conjectured...

    Another thing could be when you analyze history.
    You check several years.
    Then you could say: "Year x, Mr. x is the first president of America - something like a report.
    (Sorry, I'm not very good in history )


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    Re: Is/Was the first president?

    Somewhat akin to other optional uses of the simple present for past time is its use in reference to writers, composers, etc, and their works:

    Dickens (1812-1870) draws his characters from the London underworld of his time.
    CGEL by Quirk et. al

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