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    #1

    The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Which one is more natural and why?

    1. The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is a noble virtue.
    2. The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty was a noble virtue.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Both are possible.

    You might find this article useful, particularly the sections on backshifting.: Indirect (Reported) Speech

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    #3

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    It was and is a noble virtue. The present tense would be better.

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    #4

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    It was and is a noble virtue.
    That is a matter of opinion. If you think that honesty is a noble virtue, then 'is' is better. If you don't, then 'was' is better'.

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    #5

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    I guess I agree with that. But most people I know consider it to be a noble virtue.

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    #6

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Most people I know don't. I can think of several positive things I can say about honesty, but not that it is a 'noble virtue'. In fact, I would not use that expression of anything I can think of today. I might use it if I were writing about 14th and 15th century literature.

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    #7

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    Most people I know don't.
    I'd prefer backshifting no matter what I believed. Really 5jj, I'm quite cynical generally, but I can't see why honesty is not a noble virtue.
    Does honesty lack nobility or virtuousness? Or both? Is there nothing noble or virtuous these days?
    I think that helping learners with their English for no earthly gain is both noble and virtuous in most cases.

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    #8

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'd prefer backshifting no matter what I believed.
    My advice to learners is always to backshift.It is almost always correct, whereas not backshifting can be wrong.
    Really 5jj, I'm quite cynical generally, but I can't see why honesty is not a noble virtue.
    It's just that I would not use the words 'noble virtue' of any quality in the 21st century. They have a Victorian or ecclesiastical ring to me. I accept that this is a personal opinion, but it explains why I would backshift in the original sentence. I would not in "The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is a good quality'.
    Is there nothing noble or virtuous these days?
    Rarely, in my language, and certainly not a quality that I take for granted.
    I think that helping learners with their English for no earthly gain is both noble and virtuous in most cases.
    I think it's an admirable thing to do, but I wouldn't use your words.

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    #9

    Re: The teacher told us a story to illustrate that honesty is/was a noble virtue.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    I think it's an admirable thing to do, but I wouldn't use your words.
    Well, they weren't my words. They were words of another, but words which I would not disagree with.

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