I'm not sure if I should use 'was' or 'is' with born. This is what I understand:

  1. Not everyone is born equal.
  2. Everyone is born with limitations.

1 and 2 are general statements talking about everyone in the world.

  1. I wasn't/we weren't born with what it takes.= Talks about a single person or a particular group of people. You can't say 'I am not born' since the process of being born is already over.

Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

  • 1
    Yes, but you can say we aren't born with what it takes, usually meaning everyone.
    – Peter
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 15:57
  • That sounds vague to me. Wouldn't I be talking about everyone on the planet if I said 'aren't?' Unless I'm saying things like- "We aren't born with what it takes to fully understand God."
    – Ashraf
    Commented Aug 17, 2020 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


Since “everyone” in this context refers to every human born in the past and in the future, the present tense is correct.

If you used the past tense, then it would exclude future births, and vice versa.

Where “everyone” is more limited, such as “everyone in this room”, we would use the past tense because their births were exclusively in the past.

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