English as a Second Language/tenses

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Question
When we are telling a story, a general rule is to stick with a tense and keep it consistent. Sometimes when I am saying something happened in the past, however, I feel that I need to use the present tense. So I feel kind of confused. For example, consider the following scenario:

I met Profess Ross in 2007. He introduced his wife to me, whose name is/was Jennifer Ross. He also invited me to visit his house, which is/was on 25th street.

In the above sentence, I do not know whether I should use "is" or "was". You may ask me if his wife's name is still Jennifer, or his house is still on 25th street. In this case, let us assume I do not know what happened after 2007 but chances are that nothing changed.

Answer
Anabell,

in the scenario you described, given that you don't really know if there were any changes since 2007, I'd stick to the past tense:

I met Profess Ross in 2007. He introduced his wife to me, whose name was Jennifer Ross. He also invited me to visit his house, which was on 25th street.

If you use the present tense: "whose name is Jennifer" and "which is on the 25 th street" then you are implying that Prof Ross is still married to Jennifer, Jennifer is still alive, and he still lives in the house on the 25th street.

The context and the speaker's knowledge about the current situation are really important in situations like those you have described.

I hope this helps.

Amy

PS - have you asked this question before, as it looks vaguely familiar.

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

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BSc MEd TESL post grad program for k-12 TESL post grad program for adult ed

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