How would I rephrase the sentence below into past tense? I'm writing a story in past tense (e.g. she came, he said, they kissed).

Present tense:

z) "It was beautiful there, it is beautiful here."

Past tense:

a) "It ??? beautiful there, it was beautiful here."
b) "It was beautiful there, it was beautiful here."
c) "It had been beautiful there, it was beautiful here."

I'm a little confused, I would use version (b) but I think I'd make a mistake. This is just comparing 2 places. The thing that confuses me is that both places are still beautiful so I want to use (b) but (c) seems to be more correct. Which version is better? Current time and place is "here", "there" is the past of "here". Or maybe I'm doing something wrong?

(z) displays that there is a (significant) time period between visit of 1st and 2nd place.
(b) is an option for me to use, but the time period is lost in this one
(c) is an option for me to use, but I'm not sure if the reader knows that the first place is still beautiful.
(a) is the option if there is an even better form I don't know

(I'm not native English, sorry.)

3 Answers 3


The question seems ill-posed, since I'm not completely certain of the meaning that you intend to convey by sentence z. In fact, z isn't quite right: it contains a comma splice.

Supposing that Therfield has become polluted and is therefore no longer beautiful, but Hereford remains pristine, I would say:

It used to be beautiful there; it is still beautiful here.

Used to be is a good way to convey was, but no longer is.

Shifting the whole sentence to the past, it becomes:

It used to be beautiful there; it was still beautiful here.


b) looks good to me.

eg Andrew remembered the last time he had been by the sea, many years ago on the Amalfi coast. It was beautiful there, it was beautiful here.

  • How about (c) ? Is it correct ? Or is there no correct but what sounds better ? ^^ I know that from English commas.
    – Bitterblue
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 15:15
  • To me 'had been' could imply that it was no longer beautiful (in my example, on the Amalifi coast) but the context would sort that out. Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 16:42

(b) is good.

When you're writing a narrative, we normally use the past tense, as you indicate you are doing. The fact that some statement might still be true today is irrelevant. Don't shift to present. If I say, "I went to a concert at Ford's Theater, and the concert hall was beautiful", I am saying that it was beautiful at the time of my visit. That doesn't mean it isn't still beautiful today. It might be and it might not. If my visit was long ago, maybe the play has run down since then. Maybe they have improved it and it's better than ever. Maybe it was torn down and replaced with a parking lot. I may or may not know.

Trying to reflect what is still true today and what isn't would result in a mess of tenses. "George and Sally walked along the beach. George is tall and handsome; Sally was beautiful. The ocean has been crashing against the beach. The sun was setting but as I write this it is noon but it will set again tonight. ..." Supposing George still is handsome but Sally has gotten fat and ugly since then. The ocean was crashing against the beach and it still is and presumably will continue to do so for many many years. The sun rises and sets daily. Etc.

Most of the time, the present condition is irrelevant to the story. If it is relevant, then you normally do not indicate this with a sudden change of tense, but by explicitly calling it out. Like, "Jack saw the monument commemorating the victory at the Battle of Hastings, and that monument is still standing today."

  • I think you misunderstood me. I don't want to switch to present. It's more like: use (b) past tense or (c) past perfect for the place that was visited long ago (1st one). Please see my edit, too.
    – Bitterblue
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 16:11
  • Now I'm confused. Your example switches from past tense to present tense. Your "caption" on that statement says "present tense". Maybe you need to clarify just what meaning you intend to convey. Re-reading your question, I see that you did not specify just what you're trying to say, and I guess I made a wrong assumption.
    – Jay
    Commented Dec 4, 2014 at 18:33

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