She asked when my birthday was/is

GeogeHalin

Senior Member
Japanese
Hello members!

If there's a girl named Sue who I have a crush on, and she asks when my birthday is, I tell her. And I tell my friend right after she has asked me and walked away from me, do I say,
1. Sue just asked when my birthday is.
2. Sue just asked when my birthday was.
- I think native speakers would use either one.

And time passes and I go home. When it's dinner time and I tell my family about that, do I say
1. Sue asked when my birthday is.
2. Sue asked when my birthday was.
- I feel like native speakers would tend to use the past tense here. But I think (1) is also used and right. Is using present tense a bit more causal??

Which tense would you use??

Thank you!
 
  • Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    I'd actually use "is" in both cases. Sue (in my opinion) clearly asked in anticipation; either she's going to look up your natal horoscope (but chances are she'd have asked your sun sign) or—more likely in my view—she is looking ahead to giving you a birthday present. In other words, she's talking about your next birthday. So I wouldn't use past tense.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    If you had said, "I recently turned 84.", I would expect her to say, "was". Otherwise I am with Parla and I would go with "is".
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Why would Sue say "was"?? :confused:
    If you were to day "I recently turned 84" the question becomes "When was your birthday [upon which date you turned 84]?"

    We know it was just recently in the past, so the question is about the past and not about a birthday in the future when you are to turn 85.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No. The sentence is possible, but ambiguous, and doesn’t sound natural as a general enquiry as to the date on which your birthday falls.

    “She asked me when my birthday was” is OK, though.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But you’ve explained the use of a dummy it, which doesn’t stand in for birthday (if it did, the meaning would be “asked me when my birthday was my birthday”!) using an example in which the pronoun it does stand in for birthday. ;)
     

    You little ripper!

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    But you’ve explained the use of a dummy it, which doesn’t stand in for birthday (if it did, the meaning would be “asked me when my birthday was my birthday”!) using an example in which the pronoun it does stand in for birthday. ;)
    I didn’t say what function the ‘it’ had. I merely explained when I might use the word in that scenario.
     
    Last edited:

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Then I seem to have misunderstood what you meant by “this situation”. I read it as referring to the quoted sentence above rather than the example below, which I thought you meant as a justification of the former.
     
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