Rejane
Why is this question bellow in the simple present "What is the first English phrase you learned"? I thought I should use simple past in this case. Can you explain to me the reason of the use of this verb tense, please? Is the sentence "what was the first English phrase you learned" wrong? but anyways I mustn't use the auxiliary did because there is a to be verb in the sentence, right?
Oct 2, 2019 8:17 PM
Answers · 5
I think that both sentences "What is the first English phrase that you learned?" and "What was the first English phrase that you learned?" are correct. Personally, I would ask "What was the first English phrase that you learned?", but I can understand why somebody might use "is" instead of "was". I don't think you should worry too much about this sentence. You are correct that you should not use the auxiliary "do" or "did" in this sentence because the verb is "to be".
October 2, 2019
I think your first sentence works ok because that's still true in the present, but I can't think of a better grammatical explanation. "What was the first English phrase you learned" is not only correct, but it's better. Did something make you think it wasn't? Yes, you don't want to use is and did that way in the same clause. But you could change your question to say "What English phrase did you learn first?"
October 2, 2019
Now, what is your name/your favorite color/the first English phrase you learned? (You are talking about now) When you moved to California in 2000, what was your age/your address/the first English phrase you learned? (You are talking about then) Even though the answer might be the same to both your questions, the meaning is (slightly) different. Both are correct. Use the word that fits your meaning.
October 2, 2019
It helps if you explain where you found the sentence, and why you attach significance to it. As the others have said - both are OK. Ultimately, it is the speaker/writer's choice what to say. They may or may not know or care which is the most appropriate tense to use. There also might be other reasons related to context as to why they used that tense. e.g. using present might be more appropriate in a short speech, where they carry on to talk about the present significance of that phrase.
October 2, 2019
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Rejane
Language Skills
English, Portuguese, Spanish
Learning Language
English