I want to describe a building that still exists today. However, I'm not sure if I should say "the building was beautiful" or "the building is beautiful".

For more context, I want to describe where I used to work. For example:

I liked working there because the building was/is beautiful."

My question is similar to When to use past tense to describe someone?, but the question and the answers there didn't cover this point I mentioned.

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    The building still exists but is the building still beautiful? You are not talking about the building. You are talking about its beauty. If it is no longer beautiful, it was beautiful. If you don't know if it still beautiful, it was beautiful.
    – EllieK
    Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


Imagine you went to Spain for a vacation. You come back and now you want to describe your time in Spain to your friends. How do you describe the landscape? the restaurants? the architecture?

You use the present tense. Because those things in Spain - which you experienced last week (past) - are still there today just as it was when you were there.

However, if certain places you visited in Spain no longer exist (because they built something else in its place, for example), then you use the past tense.

In your case, you can say:

I liked working there, because the building is beautiful.

If you are unsure about the what condition the building is now, you can use the past, like EllieK said in the comments.

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    You can even include both. If the main focus of your context is the past you might choose the past tense, but add the present in an aside: "The Alhambra was rebuilt and renovated over two centuries. It was—and still is—beautiful." Commented Nov 2, 2021 at 15:23

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