I recently found myself having to write this sentence:

The only reason I found out about it [was/is] because...

But I'm not sure whether I should use is or was in this sentence. I tried Googling the sentence to check my grammar, but so far the results are almost relatively split, in which I saw many sentences of the same form that used is and also many sentences that used was.


As your Google search suggests, both forms are usually acceptable, so you can use whichever you prefer. Here are a couple of caveats:

  • If the situation only existed in the past, "was" would be more appropriate. If the situation continues to exist in the present, either "is" or "was" can be used.

The only reason I found out about it was because I heard the crash.
The only reason I found out about it [is/was] because the street is closed.

  • Tense agreement is generally more strict in formal writing. For formal writing, past 'found' would tend to agree with past 'was'. Formal writing would also call for revision of certain other parts of the sentence, particularly this use of 'because':

The only reason I found out about it is because the street is closed.(general use)
The only reason I found out about this situation was that I saw that the street was closed.(more formal)


'was' would be used when referring to something in the past or to something that has already happened (past tense). 'is' would be used when something is happening in the present (present tense). so, 'was' would be correct in this situation because you "found" something. 'found' is the past tense version of 'find'. Hopefully that helps!

edit: Actually, I'm sorry, I think the present tense version of find would be "finding". I'm not all that great with english either lol, I just know the basics..

edit 2: Wait... I never said that 'find' was the present tense version in my original message. Damn, I'm making myself look bad over here.

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