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    #1

    past tense or present tense

    Hi everyone,

    In a sentence on fiction, if we say something that we know definitely doesn't exist in reality, should we use past tense or present tense? Here is an example:

    Is there any filter that can keep my mind clean?

    We know that there is no such a filter that can do this, so should I use Is or Was in the sentence above?

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: past tense or present tense

    Quote Originally Posted by kat2006 View Post
    Hi everyone,

    In a sentence on fiction, if we say something that we know definitely doesn't exist in reality, should we use past tense or present tense? Here is an example:

    Is there any filter that can keep my mind clean?

    We know that there is no such a filter that can do this, so should I use Is or Was in the sentence above?
    Why would you ask the question at all if you already know that such a filter doesn't exist?
    In any case, your example is grammatical. I don't understand the point you're making. Do you have other examples?

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    #3

    Re: past tense or present tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Why would you ask the question at all if you already know that such a filter doesn't exist?
    In any case, your example is grammatical. I don't understand the point you're making. Do you have other examples?
    The question is, as Kat2006 stated, "fiction" and could be asked rhetorically and in a case where the answer is obvious as in the exchange (Q) "Are you going to the concert on Saturday?" (A) "Is the sky blue?" In reference to the original post, "is" would be best.

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    #4

    Re: past tense or present tense

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    The question is, as Kat2006 stated, "fiction" and could be asked rhetorically and in a case where the answer is obvious as in the exchange (Q) "Are you going to the concert on Saturday?" (A) "Is the sky blue?" In reference to the original post, "is" would be best.
    That is not the same thing - the sky is blue.

    This type of jocular response, meaning 'yes - obviously' is not fiction. A well known version of this is 'Is the Pope (a) Catholic?' 'Fictional' versions, for example, 'Is the sky green?' or 'Is the Pope an atheist?' are not used.

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    #5

    Re: past tense or present tense

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    The question is, as Kat2006 stated, "fiction" and could be asked rhetorically and in a case where the answer is obvious as in the exchange (Q) "Are you going to the concert on Saturday?" (A) "Is the sky blue?" In reference to the original post, "is" would be best.
    That could answer my first line.
    Even so, I'm saying that I still don't understand why the question should be: "Was the sky blue?", rather than "Is the sky blue?" That is, where did the idea to ask whether the question should be in the past tense come from?

    ===
    For the OP, if you ever want to ask whether, hypothetically, the sky is, or was, green, you'd use 'is' or 'was' with their usual usages. That is, it would depend on whether you wanted to know whether the sky is/was hypothetically green now or in the past.

    You might be confusing this with the use of the subjunctive in contrary to fact situations; and assuming that you use the past tense form "was" in such a case. But this is confused for several reasons.

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    #6

    Re: past tense or present tense

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    That is not the same thing - the sky is blue.

    This type of jocular response, meaning 'yes - obviously' is not fiction. A well known version of this is 'Is the Pope (a) Catholic?' 'Fictional' versions, for example, 'Is the sky green?' or 'Is the Pope an atheist?' are not used.
    Never? (Q) Do plaids go well with stripes? (A) Does oil mix with water?

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