I wonder which tense should be use in this case:

a) When Columbus arrived in America he thought he is in India.

b) When Columbus arrived in America he thought he was in India

I guess both are fine, or am I wrong?

  • 3
    David W's answer is correct. But in a different context, you can use is when you think something is still true. Both the following are fine: What she said yesterday was true and What she said yesterday is true.
    – user6951
    Apr 4 '15 at 13:33

Given that verbs "arrived" and "thought" are all clearly past tense, there is no reason to change the tense to present. Moreover, Columbus clearly cannot be doing anything in the present tense. As a result, "was" is the correct choice.


It is like reported speech, but with 'thought' instead of 'said': Columbus thought "Hey, I am in India" => Columbus thought he was in India. One tense back in the reported sentence.

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