Mom: Meggie, I let you put on your best dress this morning on one condition, that you didn't get it dirty. And look at you!
Meggie: Mum, it wasn't my fault.

Should the last sentence be "Mum, it isn't my fault."?

At the time of answering, my dress is dirty.

Wan't and isn't are pointing to the action that happened in the past or dirty dress.


Either of “wasn’t” or “isn't” can be used, with slight difference in meaning. Meggie's “It isn't my fault” can mean “It isn't my fault that my dress is dirty”, while “It wasn't my fault” can mean “The event that got my dress dirty wasn't my fault”. Both forms are grammatically correct; choose one or the other depending on what you mean to say.

  • 4
    I'm not convinced the choice of tense has any implications for how you "indirectly" associate the apologist with the fault. The only difference is that isn't focusses attention on the issue of guilt or innocence at the time of speaking (i.e. - don't hold me to blame now, as opposed to I wasn't guilty then). Apr 2 '13 at 17:43

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