I thought about what I wanted / want to do


New Member
I have a character who did some soul-searching, about a year in the past. In the present, he says to another character:

(a) Mostly, I thought about what I wanted to do, about what mattered to me.

I was wondering, though, if I should use the present simple instead:

(b) Mostly, I thought about what I want to do, about what matters to me.

For some reason, sentence (a) sounds better to me. But what the character wants is still what he realized a year ago, I feel like sentence (a) might make the reader think that his intentions changed over time.

What do you think?

Thanks in advance.
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    If you want to emphasize the notion that the character's intentions haven't changed, the present simple is possible after I thought about ___. But that emphasis may not be necessary. If I read or hear that somebody thought about what he wanted, I don't automatically assume that he no longer wants those things.


    Moderator: EHL, Arabic, Hebrew, German(-Spanish)
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I would only use (a). Even if those things haven’t changed, he can only have thought about what he wanted to do / what mattered to him at the time. You’ll need to find another way to convey that those things are still the same.