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#### ray8838

##### Senior Member

I am confused about when to use simple present tense and when to use simple past tense.

• #### owlman5

##### Senior Member
If you are talking about the present, you should use "are": They are dead. = They are dead now.

If you are talking about the past, you should use "were": They were dead. = They were dead at some time in the past.

If you are talking about the present and you mention somebody who died in the past, you should use "are": Tom and Ralph died five years ago. They are dead now.

#### ray8838

##### Senior Member
That is to say, it is always correct to use simple present tense. Right?

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
No, that's not true, ray. Imagine you're telling a story:

I heard two shots and ran into the room. John and Samantha were lying on the floor, motionless. They were dead!

You couldn't use the present tense there.

#### ray8838

##### Senior Member

If "they were dead" is true, "they are dead" is true too.
If "they are dead" is true, "they were dead" is true too.

Am I right?

#### Loob

##### Senior Member
Well, you're right in terms of logic. But that doesn't mean that "They are dead" and "They were dead" are interchangeable. Owlman's post 2 gives a good explanation of the difference.

#### owlman5

##### Senior Member
Loob's story is a narrative about the past, ray. If you are writing about the past, you should use "were". It doesn't matter that the person is still dead in the present: When I walked into the room, I saw her lying on the couch. She was dead. = She was dead when I saw her on the couch.

It doesn't matter that she is still dead now. I am talking about her condition at some time in the past.

cross-posted with Loob.

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#### ray8838

##### Senior Member
Thanks a lot!

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