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    #1

    Question Tense for genealogy of a dead person

    Hi Teachers

    If I am writing about the ancestors of a person who is not living, what's the correct tense to be used? Should I write "X was the son of so-and-so" OR "X is the son of so-and-so"

    It seems grammatically correct to write "was", but from a logical viewpoint X remains the son of so-and-so whether he is alive or dead, so shouldn't it be "is"?

    Would appreciate your views on this.

    Thank you.

    - Arvind

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    #2

    Re: Tense for genealogy of a dead person

    Quote Originally Posted by arvindtendulkar View Post
    Hi Teachers
    Welcome!
    If I am writing about the ancestors of a person who is not living, what's the correct tense to be used? Should I write "X was the son of so-and-so" OR "X is the son of so-and-so" Your sentence is not clear. Ancestors of a dead person could be living.


    It seems grammatically correct to write "was", but from a logical viewpoint X remains the son of so-and-so whether he is alive or dead, no, not if X is dead so shouldn't it be "is"?

    When writing about the dead, use 'was'. A dead person can only be dead. (S)he cannot be a parent or child or anything else. (S)he was someone's child/parent/etc.

    Thank you.

    - Arvind
    2006

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    #3

    Re: Tense for genealogy of a dead person

    Thank you, 2006. That makes sense.

    But then again (although not connected with genealogy) one would say "Hemingway is the author of A Farewell To Arms" rather than "Hemingway was the author of A Farewell..." even though Hemingway is dead, isn't it?

    Arvind

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    2006

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    #4

    Re: Tense for genealogy of a dead person

    Quote Originally Posted by arvindtendulkar View Post
    Thank you, 2006. You're welcome, and you raised a good point.


    But then again (although not connected with genealogy) The English concerning the dead, like many aspects of English, can get complicated.

    one would say "Hemingway is the author of A Farewell To Arms"
    Perhaps in that regard, it is saying that Hemingway 'still lives' through his works.

    But as a person, 'He was....'.

    A. (hearing about Hemingway for the first time) Who is Hemingway?
    B. Ernest Hemingway was an American author and journalist. (nouns)
    He is famous for...... (adjective)

    rather than "Hemingway was the author of A Farewell..."" even though Hemingway is dead, isn't it? I think you also could say '...was the author....'.

    another example...

    A. Who is the bearded man in this picture?
    B. That is my grandfather. (of course a picture of my grandfather) He was a famous writer.

    Arvind
    2006

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    #5

    Re: Tense for genealogy of a dead person

    Thank you very much. This is very logical indeed. The examples explain it well.

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    2006

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