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Hi, some silly grammer questions has been floating in my mind. When I was introducing myself in a gathering, I usually said "I am from Germany". But I sometime heard people use past tense, like ".... do you know the boy who was from France...." or "....his father was from Italy...". My grammer teacher said "...use current tense for the verb when you state a fact....", well, it is true that that boy is from France, why people are using the past tense.

The confusing part is the following ".... Mary was the hero for the house project..." (the project was finished long time ago). I am confused that it is a fact Mary did a good job for the house project, so can I say "...Mary is the hero for the house project...." to state this is a fact...

Thanks for your help on my grammer question.
Comments  
Jamiec,
To introduce yourself, you would definitely say "I am from Germany".
The case of the boy from France is explained as a short form of, "Do you know the boy who said he was from France?" Here the "was" matches the "said" in tense. It's a matter of the usual sequence of tenses when reporting."His father was from Italy", as an isolated sentence, may be an alternate way of saying "His father came from Italy", but the usual expression is "His father is from Italy".
If the house project is finished, Mary was the hero (or heroine!) at the time, not now.
Jim
P.S. It's "grammar", by the way. Emotion: smile
Hi Jamiec,

I wrote this while CJ was writing, so now you can have two different approaches!

I knew a man 30 years ago. He was from Germany.

It's because I'm talking about a time long ago.

In addition, 30 years ago, he was from Germany. Now, perhaps, he has lived in Japan for 30 years. I'd hesitate to say he is from Germany now.

I know a man who is from Germany.

Here, I'm talking about a current situation. I know him now.

I am from Germany.

I'd say this if I came recently. If I came a very long time ago, I'd probably say I came from Germany (in 1970).

...use current tense for the verb when you state a fact

It's true, but I think your teacher was thinking of 'eternal' facts like Below freezing point, water becomes ice.

Columbus came to the New World in 1492 is a fact, but we don't use present tense.

All these comments also apply to Mary and her housing project.

Best wishes, Clive
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I don't know how I can express my gratitude for you all regarding this. But you guys are super and this is the best ESL forum for me to get help from.

Thank you guys so much.
You're welcome! Don't be a stranger, now!
Calfjim

First of all I must reintroduce to the forum. In the good old days (If I may say so) I sent questions as Andrei. Now for some reason I can't use the same name. You have all ring some changes on to the board. Now I am Rotter.

1. I thought you are from Germany.

2. I thought you were from Germany.

What is the correct one? The second sentence is the correct one. One should maintain the same tense. The first sentence too is correct. I wouldn't discard the first sentence. What do you think?
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I think it's to do with reported speech:

"I think you're from Germany / I thought you were from Germany"
pleanne

I thought you are from Germany is incorrect.

You wouldn't say the above, would you?
Hello, Rotter,

No, I wouldn't say "I thought you are from Germany". But I would say either "I think you're from Germany" or "I thought you were from Germany", in different contexts of course.
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