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Let's say you see someone at a restaurant that you thought was out of town. You think: "I thought he was out of town."

Why do we say, "I thought he was out of town" rather than, "I thought he is out of town"?

Is it because the first verb in the sentence, "thought," is past tense so the second one has to match? I thought this might be the right way to think about it since it is technically okay (not in this context, but in another) to say, "I think he is out of town." In this example, the first verb is "think" (present tense), and the second verb follows suit.

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/I think he is out of town/. [present tense] might be used in making a statement to another person in the present.

/I thought he was out of town/. [simple past tense] might be used to make a statement to someone about what you thought before the matter was discussed in your present conversation with another person.

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