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The original sentence: I saw Mary in the park last night.

It was I that saw Mary in the park last night.

It was Mary that I saw in the park last night.

It was in the park that I saw Mary last night.

It was last night that I saw Mary in the park .

My question is: Can the "was" in those sentences be replaced by "is"? Please give me your opinion, thank you!
Comments  
ViceidolThe original sentence: I saw Mary in the park last night.

It was I that saw Mary in the park last night. This sounds overly formal with the word 'I'. In the majority of contexts, a native speaker would probably use 'me' rather than 'I'. I would also prefer 'who' rather than 'that'.

It was Mary that I saw in the park last night. I prefer 'who' or nothing.

It was in the park that I saw Mary last night. OK

It was last night that I saw Mary in the park. OK

My question is: Can the "was" in those sentences be replaced by "is"? Please give me your opinion, thank you!
You might sometimes hear people use 'is' (especially in the first two sentences), but 'was' would be standard.
YankeeIt was I that saw Mary in the park last night.

This sounds overly formal with the word 'I'. In the majority of contexts, a native speaker would probably use 'me' rather than 'I'. I would also prefer 'who' rather than 'that'.

I agree with the formality, however Google shows both versions in the same proportion. Agree with who.
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Marius Hancu I agree with the formality, however Google shows both versions in the same proportion.
That statement is extremely misleading, Marius. Did you actually look at the results of your Google search for "it was/is I"?
Yankee
Marius Hancu I agree with the formality, however Google shows both versions in the same proportion.
That statement is extremely misleading, Marius. Did you actually look at the results of your Google search for "it was/is I"?

I think I did, but my search was better directed, IMO:

6,620 for "It was I that saw"
8,000 for "It was me that saw"

However, these searches at BNC agree with you:
http://sara.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/saraWeb?qy=It+was++I+that
http://sara.natcorp.ox.ac.uk/cgi-bin/saraWeb?qy=It+was+me+that
YankeeDid you actually look at the results of your Google search for "it was/is I"?
Marius, you must not even have scrolled down, LOL. Go check the 100th result, for example.

Anyway, I just learned a very important thing. Here are the results I get at my place. Look:
"he is going" = 485,000 results --> set 1
"he is going to" = 786,000 results --> set 2

"I were you" = 746,000 results --> set 1
"If I were you" = 5,050,000 results --> set 2


Now, the second set in each pair is a subset of the first (for example, "he is going to" is only a part of all the results that contain "he is going").
As you can see, the subsets contain more elements than the supersets. This is a great discovery that will change the world. I want a medal now. Emotion: wink
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Google is a handy tool, but you definitely have to look at and evaluate what it spits out at you. My favorite example is the search results Google gives you for the grammatically incorrect phrase "look forward to see". If you went by the number of hits alone, you might well be misled into believing that that construction (with an infinitive rather than the present participle) is grammatically correct.
As you can see, the subsets contain more elements than the supersets. This is a great discovery that will change the world. I want a medal now.
What's the big deal? The more words you search for, the more results you get!!! Emotion: wink

CJ