Consider this simple sentence that is not based on real-life experience:

During the concert, Mike shouted until his voice was heard by the singer.

I am also confused by this type of sentence, should I use was heard or is heard? I am reported a past event, but the word until feels like I have to use the present tense. In this scenario, Mike shouted and the singer heard. Another example:

"Subjects needed information from the linear displacement of the limbs when force was applied and xxxanother cue"

Again, should it be is or was? I am reporting force that the subjects applied, however, it feels like the term when changes the was to is.

  • I would say: During the concert, Mike was shouting until his voice was heard by the singer.
    – user307254
    Dec 13, 2018 at 4:27

2 Answers 2


the word until feels like I have to use the present tense

"Until" has no restrictions about tense. All of the following are correct.

I hadn't seen a black swan until yesterday.

I will not give you your wages until the end of the month.

The Industrial Revolution didn't occur until about 1760.


It's totally fine to use 'was' in this situation because the entire event has happened in the past. For example you would say "On that infamous day, war was declared" as using 'is declared' wouldn't make sense in this context. It's only really when the event 'is happening' or 'is going to happen' where you use "is", as in present or future tense.

  • 2
    "war were declared" should be "war was declared", since "were" is plural.
    – Barmar
    Dec 13, 2018 at 0:49
  • See also: English Language Learners Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Dec 13, 2018 at 9:21

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