Is the following sentence grammatically correct?

I had forgotten that John is in New York now.

(I'm confused because the first part is in the past perfect tense and the second in simple present tense. Is it grammatically acceptable to construct a sentence like this?)

I could rephrase it as follows:

I had forgotten that John was in New York.

(But this does not clearly convey the idea that John is still in New York!)

Please explain. Thank you.

  • Anyone claiming that either is ungrammatical is being over-prescriptive. But, as you say, your first variant disambiguates. Though context would almost certainly do that. Commented Jan 5, 2017 at 23:29

2 Answers 2


This differs from dialect to dialect. The tense of "is/was" in the embedded clause agrees either with the tense of the main clause verb "had forgotten", or else it agrees with the time that the sentence is uttered, in the event that the speaker of the sentence agrees with the truth of the embedded clause. Personally, I'd say "was", whether or not I agree. Other (I think, younger) speakers would always say "is" if they agree.


"John is in New York now." is the subject, it what was forgotten.

It's not mixed tense, just seems that way. You can shuffle it around all you like, but it still means the same.


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