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  1. #1

    i don't know you were.....

    hi teachers,

    can u tell me the difference in usage between the two sentences below? I saw this from the clip of old Johnny Carson's tv show. Maybe some of you might have seen this footage,the host was Johnny Carson and the guest(don't know who he was) throws an axe to the wall which has a human drawing on it,for some reason,the axe ends up in the "private area". Audience laughs and Johnny Carson says,"i don't know you were jewish. "
    #1 was exactly what I heard on the show.

    1. i don't know you were jewish.
    2. i don't know you are jewish.


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    #2

    Re: i don't know you were.....

    I don't know? I'd say 'I didn't know'. The reason for the past is that it was important before 'circumcising' the target, not whether the person is Jewish into the future.

  2. #3

    Re: i don't know you were.....

    tdol,

    can u pls explain why "it was important before 'circumcising' the target"? I still don't really get it.


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    #4

    Re: i don't know you were.....

    I didn't know you are Jewish- Here, you will continue to be Jewish, so I use the present tense to show that. I would use this when talking to an acqauitance and had just learned their religion.
    I didn't know you were Jewish- In the show, this makes perfect sense because the person may well not be Jewish- it's just a reference to circumcision.

  3. #5

    Re: i don't know you were.....

    If I use this same structure and substitute "Jewish" with something else,say, reporter.

    I didn't know you were a reporter.

    It could mean both
    a)the person was once a reporter in the past and
    b)you just found out the person is a reporter

    am I right?


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