I don't know why but when I say "I asked him if he knew..." type of sentences making both verbs past tense, it seems like I am saying it wrong... I already used the past tense verb in the first part of the sentence and wouldn't it be obvious that I am already talking about the past rather than making the second verb past tense too?

Examples: Let's say that yesterday I met my friend Chuck and he told me that he had broken the 4K TV his father had brought a week ago. And I asked "Do you know what is going to happen to you when your father comes home tonight?". He nodded. So, the next day I am telling my mom about Chuck's TV and how he had broken it. When I tell her about the question I asked him how do I say it?

  1. I asked him if he KNEW what IS about to happen tonight.
  2. I asked him if he knows what is about to happen tonight.

which one is correct?

  • 1
    "I asked him" is past tense because that communication happened in the past. However, what was discussed could be in any tense. You should add some example sentences to better describe what you think might be incorrect.
    – user3169
    Sep 9, 2018 at 22:10
  • Related question that might be helpful: Is this reported speech? - This one might help too: ell.stackexchange.com/q/78905/9161
    – ColleenV
    Sep 11, 2018 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


You've used a '?' at the end of both the sentences which is incorrect. Secondly, I think both the sentences are fine informally. However, the formal and grammatically sound sentence would be as follows;

I asked him if he knew what was about to happen tonight / that night.

When I searched the sentences which contained phrase like asked him if he from a dataset of grammatically sound sentences, i got the sentences like;

  1. "I asked him if he was busy."
  2. "I asked him if he knew her address."
  3. "I asked him if he had enjoyed himself the day before."
  4. "I asked him if he knew my name."
  5. "I asked him if he had got my letter."
  • 1
    ha, just noticed the question marks in the examples. Fixed it.
    – amira
    Sep 13, 2018 at 7:43

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