This sentence:

The teacher explained to us what dyslexia is.

I think this is correct, but other say that it should be: The teacher explained to us what dyslexia was.

Since dyslexia still exists, I think it's okay to use present tense for the second part of the sentence, and it sounds better. Is that correct?


1 Answer 1


Both are correct The teacher explained to us what dyslexia is and The teacher explained to us what dyslexia was mean the same though some purists say that the first form is correct. Even the universal truths can be in the past tense too.

I have seen the following examples in Raymond Murphy and Michael Swan's grammar books.

1 The teacher said that the earth moves round the sun

2 The teacher said that the earth moved round the sun

The second does not mean that the earth moved in the past but does not move now

  • Your examples are a different scenario in that the Earth moving around the sun is a current action and also was a past action that happened. Dyslexia is still dyslexia, so "what dyslexia is" is correct.
    – TylerH
    Aug 29, 2019 at 14:22
  • what dylexia was [to the people who were affected by it]. Both can be right. No doubt about it.
    – Lambie
    Aug 29, 2019 at 14:33
  • 1
    The answer is correct. Both tenses are idiomatic and optional. If a stranger told me where the shop was to be found, it's not to say that the shop is no longer located there. english.stackexchange.com/questions/249667/… Aug 29, 2019 at 14:37
  • 2
    Your answer contains multiple punctuation errors. To strengthen your answer please observe proper formatting and punctuation. Aug 30, 2019 at 1:23
  • 1
    Thanks everyone. Your comments and answer are helpful.
    – julieder
    Aug 30, 2019 at 15:32

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