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Last time I checked, the United States of America was a democratic country.

Last time I checked, the United States of America is a democratic country.

Any preference or right/wrong above?

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  • 1
    The last time I checked, my cousin had never slept with a woman. Sep 9, 2021 at 19:44
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    The last time I checked, Christmas will be on December 25th. Sep 9, 2021 at 20:23
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    @MichaelHarvey Those are really good examples. I can see using the present tense for general truths too ("Last time I checked, water boils at 212F").
    – stangdon
    Sep 9, 2021 at 21:00
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    The last time I checked, a wooden stick would not conduct electricity. Sep 9, 2021 at 21:49

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To this US English speaker, of the two choices given above, only the past tense sounds correct. Whether the fact is still true or not, we are talking about what was true at the time the speaker last checked, which must be in the past.

Consider an alternative example which might make it clearer:

The last time I visited Spain, the beaches are/were closed.

Which one sounds correct? Clearly only were closed, because we are talking about what was true then, not what is true now. The beaches might or might not be closed now, but that is not what we are talking about.

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  • Thanks and I'm very comfortable with your advice. However, my question comes from this older thread ell.stackexchange.com/questions/54229/… where example phrases are all in "present tense". I'd appreciate it if you'd elaborate on that. Thanks again.
    – SamuraiJ
    Sep 10, 2021 at 5:59

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