For example, "I found that LA is not an island." (Truth always)

or "I ensured them that car insurance is necessary." (Truth in past and now still)

Do I have to use "was" instead of "is" for tense agreement?

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    No. There is no obligatory "tense agreement" in English. In both examples either is or was may be used, at the speaker's option. However, in the second example, the verb to use is assured. Not ensured, which does not take an indirect object and is therefore ungrammatical in this sentence, and doesn't mean what you want anyway (to ensure means to find out for sure, not to tell anybody anything). Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 17:45
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    I seem to remember some forecasting about a quake eventually tearing part of California off the mainland. So the "truth always" status of "LA is not an island" is somewhat debatable. :)
    – cHao
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 19:56

1 Answer 1


If it is still necessary, most people would default to is, but was is also correct because at the time it was necessary. The fact that it is still necessary isn't necessarily relevant. It depends on subtle context of the conversation.

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    What do you mean, "technically"? Exactly what rule is being applied to produce this judgement? Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 17:54
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    '...technically was is correct...' assumes that there is an obligatory "tense agreement" in English, which J Lawler said/says there isn't. As both was necessary and is necessary (at the time the speaker utters the words) make sense, tecnically both are correct here. And if the laws of the land have changed, one may be grammatically correct but a false statement. Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 17:56
  • @JohnLawler: It's technically correct because although people would usually default to is, was is still correct. I'm judging that based on the fact that there isn't a rule to my knowledge that invalidates the usage of was.
    – Jacobm001
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 17:57
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    @Jacobm001: Sorry if my downvote seems a bit harsh! But I'm solidly behind John & Edwin here, and it seems to me your "technically was is correct" erroneously implies that "technically is is incorrect". And that bothers me. Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 18:01
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    @FumbleFingers: I have reworded for better clarification.
    – Jacobm001
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 18:05

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