Clearing Up Tense Use Once More


Hi Again All: I’m still feeling the effects—good or bad, depending on how you see of it—of having read "5 Lessons for Mixing Past and Present Tense"  (“5 Lessons”) (

With that said:


Is it grammatical for someone to say the following even though they maintain the same feeling about the experience to the present day:

“It was one of the best experiences I had in my life.”

IF the feeling is still the same, are we REQUIRED to use a present tense, and, if so, how?

Can we just maintain the past tense even though the feeling still exists, risking the creation of an implicature.


Same as to this that I heard a news anchor say the other day:

“The firefighters were able to contain the hazardous spill.  That was great.”

Okay, as in the previous quoted example, in this latter quoted example, I know the reference is to the past act, but isn’t the containment still a great thing, and, therefore, “is” should be used?


What about when someone says “that was a tragic event.” 

Once tragic, isn’t it always tragic, and thus the present tense should be used? I may have somehow lost it with the “5 Lessons” article—paying too much attention instead of just going with the ‘flow.’


Last one, and the example comes from the Grammar Girl (

“[R]ecently I was on a plane reading Seth Harwood's crime novel Jack Wakes Up, and I was struck by the fact that it was written in the present tense.”

So, is it okay to have written “it was written in the present tense” even though the novel presently is written in the present tense?


“And although I did find the present tense in his book distracting, I still enjoyed the story. It had a lot of action and was a great book to read on the plane.”

Enjoyed? Should it be written in the present tense of the book’s feature, as something found to be an enjoyable story?  Also, as opposed to “had,” shouldn’t present perfect—has—be used to explain there exists “a lot of action” in the book, and the present tense—is—be used to explain that the book is a great book? Or, is it okay to have said "had" and "was"—please, please explain all this.

IF someone cannot only explain it, but refer to other scholarly material, as applicable, for more reading, that would be great.  I am forever appreciative of your assistance.


tenses edited May 13 '13 at 00:55 Heather New member

Will anyone attempt to answer my grammar questions, please?

HeatherMay 12 '13 at 17:34

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