I am not sure which one is correct in the following situation...

  1. "The video I watched on Youtube yesterday WAS in Mandarin." OR
  2. "The video I watched on Youtube yesterday IS in Mandarin. "

The video is in Mandarin no matter when I watch, but because it was yesterday, should I use past tense for the sentence? Thanks!

1 Answer 1


The correct answer is "was in Mandarin". "Was" is not referring to the video's language in general but rather the language of the video during the act of watching it yesterday. If the video is later dubbed in English, it still WAS in Mandarin. If your are speaking in the present tense, then the video IS in Mandarin.

  • Nope. This is an example of speech reporting on past action. The verbs in what is reported may be placed in the past tense. This is called backshifting and it's often optional. At the time of viewing, the OP would say "The video I'm watching is in Mandarin." After the fact, the OP may say either, "The video I watched was in Mandarin" to have the state of the video match the viewing, or he may "The video I watched is in Mandarin" to indicate that the state of the video remains unchanged.
    – deadrat
    Mar 10, 2017 at 4:51

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