Is it acceptable to use the past tense when talking about someone that is still alive but you no longer have any interaction with? "His name was Alex" I always correct myself and use present tense but it feels very weird.

  • 2
    If you no longer have any interactions with Alex, how do you know the name remains unchanged? She might be Alexa now.
    – JEL
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 5:28
  • In fact, if you did say "I had a friend, his name is Alex", his name might have been Alexa when you knew her. Just because his name was Alex doesn't imply that it no longer is. (Yes, I know people joke about it, but that doesn't make it wrong) So if you are talking about your friend in the past tense, there is no reason to change to the present, when referring to his name.
    – Born2Smile
    Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 6:07
  • @user159858, I agree. I've often noticed, when talking with friends about someone we no longer see but is probably still alive, that we might say, "He was an odd character". And I think, he probably still is, but the past tense seems right. Commented Feb 11, 2016 at 11:39

1 Answer 1


There is a very useful rule which I found in one of video lessons on the Internet, and it turned to be very useful. If you start speaking in present, keep to the present, if you start speaking in the past, keep to the past.It really helps while making sentences. So if you began your story in the past, it would be right to continue in the past. Thus you will avoid a mistake.

  • That's an interesting observation and probably good advice, but it doesn't answer the question, or even address it. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 15:12

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