The public and critics laughed at Rousseau's flat style of portraying human figures. This was because the paintings did not look real. Rousseau's style was markedly different from the contemporary mainstream.

Can i use is instead of was here? If possible,how the uses are different? If not, why?

It seems confusing to me because the writer assesses the caual relationship at current moment of writing, so is also looks acceptable to me.

1 Answer 1


Just by sound/intuition, "this was" sounds more natural to me than "this is" here.

Logically, either would make sense, but with slightly different meanings. If you say "this was because," you're talking about the thing that happened in the past that you just mentioned - the public and critics laughing at Rousseau. So you're explaining what the cause of their laughing was, which is probably what you want to do.

However, if you say "this is because," you're now referring to the statement you're making in the present and explaining why it is true. In this case, the meaning is the same and the indirection is unnecessary, but if you were saying something more analytical, like:

Rousseau's work exerted an extensive influence on several generations of avant-garde artists.


Then "this is because [analysis of his influence...]" sounds more natural, since you're talking about why he had influence in general (not at a specific time) rather than what caused some specific event.

  • Your explanation is so core to the point. So i am eager to receive an answer about slightly different matter.. Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 14:28
  • [ She overcame all of her difficulties and created her own destiny as a merchant all by herself. That "is"not all. After making a large fortune, she willingly donated almost all of her wealth to her starving neighbors. I really respect her way of life. ] Here, if i use "was"instead of "is", the meaning would be changed? Commented Apr 1, 2019 at 14:30
  • @yoonjinkim In this case, "that's not all" is such a set phrase that "that was not all" sounds awkward to me no matter the context. An alternative phrase that I like better is "not only that," which doesn't have any tense to worry about.
    – Ethan B.
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 15:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .