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I was on leave and went to the office for some reason. At the office my friend asked me:

Why you are in the office today? I thought you are on leave.

It sounded weird to me. He used the present tense after the past tense "thought". Is it OK if we construct the sentence this way or should the sentence be like:

Why are you in the office today? I thought you were on leave.

One more sentence in this context:

I thought you were/are coming late today.

  • Either say: "How come you are in the office today?" or "Why are you in the office today?" I thought (past tense) you were on leave. – anouk Jan 23 at 20:39
  • [I sounded weary.] I thought you were on leave. leave is not holiday. – Lambie Jan 25 at 19:27
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This is known as agreement of tenses (amongst other names). Wikipedia says:

If the main verb of a sentence is in the past tense, then other verbs must also express a past viewpoint, except when a general truth is being expressed.

So you are correct that the second verb should also have been in the past tense:

I thought you were on leave.

I thought you were coming late today.

These are the correct way to say these sentences.

If the second part of the sentence is a general truth, then the present tense is used:

I thought the Earth is flat, now I know it's round.

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    "I thought the Earth is flat, now I know it's round." This sounds incorrect. "I thought the Earth was flat, but now..." sounds more accurate. Could you explain why you've picked your current sentence structure? – Corsaka Jan 31 at 14:28
  • @Corsaka I wasn't entirely happy with that when I wrote it. Perhaps: "I thought lions eat plants, now I know they eat animals." – CJ Dennis Feb 1 at 8:22
  • I think what "If the second part of the sentence is a general truth, then the present tense is used" means is when the second part is a general truth, use the present in the second part only, i.e: I thought lions ate plants, now I know they eat animals. – Corsaka Feb 1 at 14:53
  • @Corsaka I wrote that sentence myself. It is not found in the Wikipedia article. I agree that your sentence is also possible. – CJ Dennis Feb 1 at 21:41
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Well , grammatically yes .. it's like saying

John could ride horses better than anyone

Which is correct .. it will have no meanings if we say john could rode ...

.. i thought you are on leave

Means in the last few hours i was thinking youre on leave

I thought you were coming late today

Were+verb-ing is correct affer a past tense

Another explanation : as i said in the situation you mentioned are is correct , but if your friend means that i kinda figured out that you were not on leave yesterday he must say it like this

.. I thought you were on leave

Hope i helped ..

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