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If the verb in the main clause is in the past tense, the verb in the object subordinate clause should also be used in one of the past tenses. The examples below show how the sentences given above will change if we use the past tense in the main clause.

I thought that he lived on Rose Street.

I didn't know if she was in town.

But as they say

When did you find out that he is ill?

is sounded fine.

But it is violates the rule of sequence tense above because the verb in the main clause is in the past tense but the verb in the object subordinate clause is in the present tense. Isn't?

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  • I don't know what "rule of sequence tense" you're referring to, but it's perfectly natural to backshift in your example contexts. Also note that you must backshift if it's known at time of utterance that the thing being referenced is no longer true (or never was). Nov 13, 2019 at 14:15
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    Possible duplicate of I never knew + present simple Nov 13, 2019 at 14:19

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