[Grammar] He asked me what is/was sth, what sth is/was

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uktous

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Hi,

Question:
Which sentence is correct?


Sentence1:
He asked me what is mortgage.
Sentence2:
He asked me what mortgage is.
Sentence3:
He asked me what was mortgage.
Sentence4:
He asked me what mortgage was.

Thanks
 

euncu

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He asked me what a mortgage was.
 

emsr2d2

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He asked me what a mortgage was.

He asked me what a mortgage is - also correct. The salient point of both our answers being that it needs to be "a mortgage".
 

uktous

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He asked me what a mortgage is - also correct. The salient point of both our answers being that it needs to be "a mortgage".

Hi,

If I am telling a story, should I say

" He asked me what a mortgage was"
or
" He asked me what a mortgage is"
??

Thanks
 

Raymott

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Hi,

If I am telling a story, should I say

" He asked me what a mortgage was"
or
" He asked me what a mortgage is"
??

Thanks
I'd say that the form with "was" is much more common.

In a story, I'd use "was" because it's likely that there is less of a relation between the world of the story and present reality than there is in the relation between past reality and present reality.
 

uktous

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I'd say that the form with "was" is much more common.

In a story, I'd use "was" because it's likely that there is less of a relation between the world of the story and present reality than there is in the relation between past reality and present reality.

Hi,

If I talk about a past event (reality), shoud I use "is or was"?

Eg:

Mary: What did John ask you?
Me: He asked me what a mortgage is/was.

Thanks
 

Raymott

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Hi,

If I talk about a past event (reality), shoud I use "is or was"?

Eg:

Mary: What did John ask you?
Me: He asked me what a mortgage is/was.

Thanks
My opinion is that you should always use "was".
I can't think of any context in which "is" would be better. It would save learners a lot of trouble if they learned how to backshift for reported speech, and forgot about "is" altogether. You don't need it.
 
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