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    #1

    Correct use of "is" and "was"

    I am becoming confused in the use of “is” and “was”.

    The sentence: “He was a police” expresses that he is not a police now.

    Question 1.
    In the sentence “Last summer, I met a man who is/was my father’s friend”.

    Can I use “is“ is express the man is still my father’s friend, and use “was” to express that the man is no longer my father’s friend?

    Question 2.
    In the sentence: “When I was 18 years old, my father bought me a smart phone, it is/was a Samsung”.

    Shall I use “is” because the phone is always a Samsung?

    Whe I use "was" does it means that the phone has another brand name now?

  1. Bennevis's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    1) In some cases, you can use "used to": He used to be a policeman.

    2) Last summer, I met a man who
    is/was my father’s friend: If the person is still alive, we may use "is".
    3) When I was 18 years old, my father bought me a smart phone; it is/was a Samsung: "was", since it was a long time ago.

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Chan View Post
    Question 1.
    In the sentence “Last summer, I met a man who is/was my father’s friend”.
    "Last summer, I met a friend of my father/father's." This avoids having to choose.
    As to the choice between 'father' and 'father's', both are used.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Note that we don't say "He is/was a police".

    You can say:

    He is/was a policeman.
    He is/was a police officer.
    She is/was a policewoman.
    She is/was a police officer.
    He is/was in the police.
    She is/was in the police.
    He/She is/was a member of the police force.
    He/She is in the [name of constabulary].
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by Bennevis View Post
    1) In some cases, you can use "used to": He used to be a policeman.

    2) Last summer, I met a man who
    is/was my father’s friend: If the person is still alive, we may use "is".
    3) When I was 18 years old, my father bought me a smart phone; it is/was a Samsung: "was", since it was a long time ago.
    If my father bought me a smart phone yesterday; it is/was a Samsung. Can "is or was" both be possible?

    Thanks.

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    If my father bought me a smart phone yesterday; it is/was a Samsung. Can "is or was" both be possible?

    Thanks.
    They're both possible and you'll hear both but for me, logically, only "is" makes sense. The phone is still a Samsung. It didn't change brand overnight.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #7

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    They're both possible and you'll hear both but for me, logically, only "is" makes sense. The phone is still a Samsung. It didn't change brand overnight.
    Thanks ems.

    Could you explain it to me why we can use "was" in the above context?
    Last edited by Winwin2011; 17-Feb-2014 at 09:25.

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    #8

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by Winwin2011 View Post
    Could you explain it to me why we can use "was" in the above context?
    You can say it was a Samsung because it was a Samsung. Even though it is still a Samsung, and probably has been a Samsung since a cheaper generic brand was relabelled as 'Samsung', when your father gave it to you (a past action), it was a Samsung.

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    #9

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Note that we don't say "He is/was a police".

    You can say:

    He is/was a policeman.
    He is/was a police officer.
    She is/was a policewoman.
    She is/was a police officer.
    He is/was in the police.
    She is/was in the police.
    He/She is/was a member of the police force.
    He/She is in the [name of constabulary].
    Thank you for correcting my mistake.
    Can I write " The police is coming" , when I refer to the "police force"?

  6. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: Correct use of "is" and "was"

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Chan View Post
    Thank you for correcting my mistake.
    Can I write " The police is coming" , when I refer to the "police force"?
    No - the police are coming. That police officer is coming this way.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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