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Hi,
I have trouble with "past/present" tenses in the same sentence.

It was my father who bought that car.
- Yes. It seems in cleft sentences the tenses have to be in agreement.
It is my father who bought that car. - I don't think it's possible.

When was the last time you saw Martha? - Yes.
When is the last time you saw Martha?
- No.

That said, I'm not sure about these two. These are not cleft sentences, I think:
That's the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.
That was the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.

And what about this one? It's a mess!
I wrote "pee" because it is/was the only word I know/knew that doesn't/didn't get censored here.

This is difficult because in Italian we use verbs differently (When has been the last time...?)
Thanks in advance. Emotion: smile
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I have trouble with "past/present" tenses in the same sentence. Join the club.

It was my father who bought that car.
- Yes. It seems in cleft sentences the tenses have to be in agreement. Appearances can be deceiving. Non-agreement is often fine.
It is my father who bought that car. - I don't think it's possible. Wrongo! Minus two! is is the default linking verb for cleft structures, no matter what the rest of the sentence has. The is is more of a grammatical device of the cleft structure than a true indicator of time or tense. Tense agreement is fine, though, if you prefer it.

When was the last time you saw Martha? - Yes.
When is the last time you saw Martha?
- No. Minus two!

That said, I'm not sure about these two. These are not cleft sentences, I think: You think right.
That's the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.
That was the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.
Both OK.

And what about this one? It's a mess! Don't panic!
I wrote "pee" because it is/was the only word I know/knew that doesn't/didn't get censored here.

I find only these acceptable (below). 'What gets censored' is generically true, so I'd keep that in the present tense for all cases. The last example is less than completely acceptable to me because of this, backshift principles notwithstanding. The cases of is are all this same kind of present - not so much temporal, but more conceptual. was is temporal -- was at the time. knew is also temporal -- knew at the time I wrote it.

I wrote "pee" because it is the only word I know that doesn't get censored here.
I wrote "pee" because it is the only word I knew that doesn't get censored here.
I wrote "pee" because it was the only word I knew that doesn't get censored here.
I wrote "pee" because it was the only word I knew that didn't get censored here.


CJ
Comments  
KooyeenHi,
I have trouble with "past/present" tenses in the same sentence.

It was my father who bought that car.
- Yes. It seems in cleft sentences the tenses have to be in agreement.
It is my father who bought that car. - I don't think it's possible.

When was the last time you saw Martha? - Yes.
When is the last time you saw Martha?
- No.

You are right on these two with making the tenses agree BUT you hear people mixing tenses so much that it almost doesn't matter. 'When is the last time you saw Martha?' It is so common to hear that. It doesn't sound wrong at all.

That said, I'm not sure about these two. These are not cleft sentences, I think:
That's the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.
That was the reason why I didn't buy Bob's car.

Both these are correct. You go to look at Bob's car but don't buy it. Then you come home and your wife says 'I thought you were going to buy Bob's car?' 'Well, when I heard the engine it sounded bad. That's the reason I didn't buy it.' One week later your father asked your 'Weren't you going to buy Bob's car?' 'Well, when he started it up the engine sounded bad. That was the reason why I didn't buy it.'

If it's something that just happened you might say 'that is the reason.' When it becomes a past event you'd say 'that was the reason'

And what about this one? It's a mess!
I wrote "pee" because it is/was the only word I know/knew that doesn't/didn't get censored here.

This is difficult even for native English speakers. But it sounds right if you agree with tenses on the last two. The first is optional.

I wrote "pee" because it is/was the only word I know that doesn't get censored here.

I wrote "pee" because it is/was the only word I knew that didn't get censored here.

Again, English speakers will mix these up all the time and no one will notice.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Thanks.
I think you're right, natives often mix tenses. The only thing that sounds strange is that "When is the last time..." You said it's common to hear it that way, and I think it is not. Anyway, maybe it's just me and it depends what you are used to. Thanks. Emotion: smile
 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.