English as a Second Language/is vs was


Dear Mr Cole,

I copied the following information from the following website:


This page lists useful phrases for the language function of apologizing.


I'm sorry..


..is/was my fault
It's unforgivable, I know

I am wondering if the following sentences using "is" are incorrect.

1. I'm sorry it is my fault.(incorrect)
2. It is unforgivable, I know. (incorrect)

I think "I'm sorry it was my fault." is correct.

In what circumstances should we use " ...is my fault" as shown in above? Would appreciate if you can give me some examples.


In general, we would use "is my fault" about a situation that is happening in the present time.

Let me give you a comparison:

"Dr. Smith did not like the presentation."
"I am sorry; it was my fault."


"There is water pouring out of the pipes in the bathroom!"
"I am sorry; it is my fault."

"It's cold in here!"
"I'm sorry; it's my fault.  I forgot to turn on the heat this morning."

English as a Second Language

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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