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I understand that 'yesterday' talks about things in the past and usually uses past tense. However, I saw some sentences in present tense like

  1. Yesterday is gone.
  2. Yesterday is a history.

But I didn't see the following sentences:

  1. Yesterday is a good day.

  2. Yesterday is my birthday.

So, what's the differences between them? Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1

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The first two are speaking in a poetic, even metaphysical way, giving a fact (or opinion) that is eternally true. That is, the word "yesterday" doesn't refer the day before today at the time of speaking, but to the previous day from any viewpoint (that may be in the past or future). The statement Yesterday is gone" will stay true tomorrow, and the day after that.

In the second group of sentences, the word "yesterday" refers to a specific day, relative to the speaker, and that day is in the past. The statement "yesterday was my birthday" will not be true tomorrow, or the day after. Note that a person speaking on the 4th of Feb 2024 could rephrase the second two sentences as "February 3rd was a good day", which would not be possible in the first sentences, without changing the meaning.

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  • Thank you, James. Is it ok to say: February 3rd is gone? Because that will stay true tomorrow and the day after that.
    – Zelin
    Feb 4 at 12:46
  • Yes, that's right.
    – James K
    Feb 4 at 13:05

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