A: I once bought a laptop for half the original price, but it broke the very next week.
B: Did the shop owner time it or something?
A: I don't know but it's crazy bro. I was so pissed.

A says "it's crazy" since he finds the situation crazy in general, and he still feels the same now. However, "it" refers to the situation, which happened in the past.

So, can A use present simple here or past simple is the only option?

  • 1
    "It's crazy" would probably be understood in context to mean "the lack of quality control these days is crazy"-- although "once" goes in the opposite direction since it talks about something not recent. But "bro" is probably stoned and won't notice.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 20 at 9:30
  • Why is "bro" probably stoned? Commented Jun 20 at 10:23
  • Tonight at 11: Why is bro probably stoned?
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 20 at 11:09
  • 1
    I think TimR's point is that "bro" has associations with the hippie culture of the 60s-70s, though it's spread to plenty of other informal contexts by now. There are some questions on here about the "generic 'it,'" used to make general statements like "It's cool," in which it's not clear what "it" refers to, beyond "you know, the topic in general that we're talking about." This would seem to free it from expectations about verb tense. Commented Jun 20 at 20:11

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you're talking about a past event, or possibly more than one event (you buying the laptop was an event, it breaking was another) that collectively make up a situation.

It depends whether you view that situation as ongoing or not. If the matter has come to a conclusion, you'd more likely want to say "it was crazy". But if it is ongoing - perhaps you still haven't resolved the matter with the vendor - then the ongoing situation is crazy.

There are other contexts where it isn't so binary - for example, you might talk about something that happened to you which has ended, but you're aware that it still happens to other people, so you could say that what happened to you was [crazy] but the ongoing issue is [crazy].

  • Thank you. There's another situation that I can think of. Abraham Lincoln is/was one of the most highly revered figures in the US In this case, he's still revered at the moment and he was surely revered in the past, which means I can say either even though he's dead, can't I? Commented Jun 20 at 10:25
  • I'm not sure if these two situations are closely related though. Commented Jun 20 at 10:26
  • 2
    @AnIELTSLearner I think that's a completely different question. We say is/was depending on perspective. For example, if your dad was dead, you would say "he was my dad", but you would still say "I am his son". He was, you are. Likewise, when you're talking about Abraham Lincoln being revered you're really talking about his memory. He was a president, and he is revered.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jun 20 at 10:29

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