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Is past tense correct here?

What is the difference between the following:

Didn't you know there was an election today.

Didn't you know there is an election today.

Isn't the second one ungrammatical?

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marked as duplicate by RegDwigнt Apr 15 '12 at 21:45

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Your second example doesn't make sense because you can't be certain of what the weather will do. –  Matt Эллен Apr 15 '12 at 19:32
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@Matt Эллен: I have the impression Noah's questions are often marred by his quoting "unnatural" example usages. So I've changed thunderstorm to election, which leaves the (perfectly reasonable, imho) substantive question intact, without that jarring distraction. –  FumbleFingers Apr 15 '12 at 21:28
    
@Fumble: Well, with that out of the way, this is now a dupe, methinks. –  RegDwigнt Apr 15 '12 at 21:44
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1 Answer 1

In the first sentence the intent of the asker is not to get an answer from you, but rather to provide you with a piece of information.

What the asker actually saying is: "There was a tunderstorm today."

The second sentence makes sense if you reword it as follow: "Didn't you know there is a thunderstorm now?"

In this case the asker actually say: "There is a thunderstorm now."

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@FumbleFinger - Could you say if my answer must be changed after your revision of original question? If so, would it be need only to change the word thunderstorm with the word election? –  Elberich Schneider Apr 15 '12 at 21:39
    
@Anglo Saxon: My comment to the question clarifies what I did and why, so I don't think you need to alter your text. It would be unreasonable for anyone to downvote (or fail to upvote) you just for that detail. Though personally I would change it, if only to correct the typo in second para. Having said all that, I don't agree with your distinction of meaning (though it wasn't me who downvoted the answer). –  FumbleFingers Apr 15 '12 at 21:49
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