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I have two questions:-


1) A girl was talking near a group of kids. The kids were a bit scared of that girl. Also that girl was very beautiful. When the girl left they started talking about that girl. Will they say:-

"That girl was very scary" "I know, however she was quite remarkable" "She was very beautiful"

or

"That girl is very scary" "I know, however she is quite remarkable" "She is very beautiful"

I know that the girl left so you can use "was" because they are talking about a girl who is no longer in the room.

However if there is an object which looks very beautiful and after that the object became ugly then you will say "that object was very beautiful" and the was here means that the object is no longer beautiful


2) In the past a girl played against an opponent and that opponent is a beginner so she took it easy on that opponent. After that the girl talks about that match. Will she say:-

"In the past I wasn't hard when I played against an opponent who is a beginner."

or

In the past I wasn't hard when I played against an opponent who was a beginner.

I know the match is in the past so when she is describing the opponent that she played against she can say "who was a beginner"

However if there is a person who is a beginner and then that person became an expert then you will say "that person was a beginner" and that means that the person is no longer a beginner


Is using was or is both grammatically correct in the two examples in what you want to use is up to you?

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  • Have you looked into this question yourself? If so, you should include the results of your own research what did you find out, when you looked into this? What sources did you use? etc. – Gary Dec 29 '17 at 8:46
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1)

"That girl was very scary", "I know, however she was quite remarkable", "She was very beautiful"

or

"That girl is very scary", "I know, however she is quite remarkable", "She is very beautiful"

Your question:

I know that the girl left so you can use "was" because they are talking about a girl who is no longer in the room.

However if there is an object which looks very beautiful and after that the object became ugly then you will say "that object was very beautiful" and the was here means that the object is no longer beautiful

This comes down to meaning. Both are fine grammatically, was is past tense, is on the other hand is present tense. The two words create different meanings in the sentences.

By using was you are expressing the idea that the girl is no longer present, and also the connected idea that the beauty, remarkableness and scary nature are also gone. This implies that the people that are speaking are likely not to see this girl again. It is not likely that the girl lost all of these qualities the moment she left their sight, however the past tense was expresses the idea that these qualities are now lost to the people speaking. So the suggestion is that the girl is gone from them and they will not see her again.

Is on the other hand suggests they may meet again (this is subtle, and not necessarily the case), but the use of the present tense, leaves open the possibility that the people speaking may in fact catch sight of the beauty, remarkableness and scare factor of the girl again.

Just one other point on this first question, you use the word "scary". Scary can have many different meanings, but I think what you mean to say from the fact that this girl was judged to be remarkable and beautiful is likely intimidating.

The people speaking were perhaps scared to approach her? If so intimidating would be a better fit.

Your second question:-

2)

"In the past I wasn't hard when I played against an opponent who is a beginner."

or

In the past I wasn't hard when I played against an opponent who was a beginner.

However if there is a person who is a beginner and then that person became an expert then you will say "that person was a beginner" and that means that the person is no longer a beginner

Vocabulary is a little off here.

A more regular expression would be something like:

In the past I took it easy when I played the beginner opponent.

But that aside. The use of is or was are both fine, was doesn't necessarily imply the person is no longer a beginner. This is a similar idea to question one, the person was a beginner when the person speaking played them, so the present and past tense can both be used.

Is simply creates a greater effect of immediacy, so the choice of words will be dependent on the sense you are looking to create in your readers.

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  • thanks for your answers :) this is the first time that the guys saw the girl but they will see her again so using is or was in example is correct depending on how you want to explain the sentence. however if you talk about a person who is dead then you should use was – shadi shtaklef Dec 29 '17 at 9:25
  • for my 2nd question paul said "The main clause is in simple past, so the when-clause should also be in the past" but gary said it is correct. is what paul said really correct? for example if i rewrite the sentence and it is "in the past, i played a match against a player who ___ a beginner". here using "is" is better because i am saying that the other player is a beginner and my other sentence when i used "when" also means the same thing so using "is" should also be correct – shadi shtaklef Dec 29 '17 at 9:32
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Let's compare your first two groups of phrases:

  1. "That girl was very scary" "I know, however she was quite remarkable" "She was very beautiful"

Using the past tense in this context suggests that this was the first encounter they have ever had with the girl. The simple past tense also suggests they don't know when or if they will see her again.

  1. "That girl is very scary" "I know, however she is quite remarkable" "She is very beautiful"

The simple present tense, especially in its use after the girl has left, conveys the sense that the boys are all familiar with her, and that these are things they believe about her in general.


Your following two examples have some other issues. There should be a comma after the introductory adverbial phrase "In the past". Also, I suggest using "I took it easy", because saying "I was hard" sounds potentially lewd, at least in the American vernacular.

  1. *"In the past, I took it easy when I played against an opponent who is a beginner."

This is grammatically incorrect. The main clause is in simple past, so the when-clause should also be in the past. When-clauses describe events that happen at exactly the same time or before the main clause, so it doesn't make sense for the when-clause to be in the present when the main clause is in the past. Your second phrase has the correct tenses:

  1. "In the past, I took it easy when I played against an opponent who was a beginner."
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