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Example 1

‎"One thing interesting about the trip in Japan is that I tried the spicy ramen."

Example 2

"One thing interesting about the trip in Japan was that I tried the spicy ramen."

Do I use "is" or "was"? Or both of them are correct but mean different things?

Example 1 is used when I right now still think it is interesting?

Example 2 is used probably when I used to think spicy ramen was something interesting? Probably came back from Japan and still thought it was very special before finding out spicy ramen is actually everywhere and very common?

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I imagine the reason this is confusing to you is because the trip is in the past. You would definitely say:

The trip was interesting.

But you're saying something slightly different. You've isolated some aspect of the trip - a 'thing'. So, the question is, are you finding that thing interesting now, or did you find it interesting in the past?

If you were saying something on the trip was thrilling or boring, those adjectives more often describe the feeling you had about something in the moment, so it is unlikely you would, in retrospect, say some part of a trip "is" thrilling, for example. But, we can find things "interesting" in retrospect. You can read a history, learn something from the past, and say it is interesting. So you could reflect on something from your own past and say, on analysis, that it is interesting. Also note that 'interesting' can sometimes mean 'intriguing', which is a much more enduring feeling, because it can imply you are still thinking about something that is baffling or unresolved.

So, if you want to say you found something interesting whilst on your trip, use 'was'.

But, if it want to say you are finding something interesting now, or if something related to the trip has continued until now, use "is".

You might also use "is" if you were talking about the trip as something that could happen again in the future. For example, if you enjoyed a museum trip whilst there, you might say "the museum was interesting", but if you were recommending the trip to a friend you might tell them "the museum is interesting".

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    Excellent answer. One thing interesting about the trip to Japan is that I now have a better grasp of Japanese etiquette. The most memorable thing was the trip to Kyoto.
    – WS2
    Jul 22, 2023 at 21:42

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