Student or Learner
A few days ago, at the supermarket I met Jenny, her father Mr.Brown and an elder person whom I didn't know. Now I'm talking to my friend, Mary, on the phone, (please tell me the correct be-verb I should use, is there any grammar rules for this kind of situation? thank you!)
Mary : Who was Mr.Brown? ( should Mary use 'is' or 'was'? )
I : He is Jenny's father. ( 'is' correct? )
Mary : Who was that old man? ( use 'is' or 'was'? )
I : I guess he was Jenny's grandfather. ( 'is' or 'was'? )
ps, I asked similar questions a few days ago, and I'm thankful for Teia, bhaisahab and Searching for language for your answers, but I think I need some general rules.
I don't know the answer to this, but I will have a try.
I think the present tense sounds better when the individual is introduced by a proper noun (name), and the past when he / she is introduced by a definite description ("the", etc.).
Why? I think this may be because a name has a reference independently of the situation described (so it is natural to talk about them in the present as long as they are assumed to still exist), while a definite description takes its reference from the situation (or at least a situation). In a sense, the individual in this case is only considered as part of the situation (the old man who you met, the boy who was waving). So if the situation is in the past, the individual is talked about in the past tense.
As I say I am only guessing, and would be interested to hear other ideas.
Thank you, Orangutan. I think you may are heading in the right direction with this. Most useful, indeed.