4

I was wondering if you could turn the "the reason is [...]" phrase into the past tense.

Can you turn "The reason I was late is because I slept in this morning." to "The reason I was late was because I slept in this morning."?
Should I have to push it further back, such as in "The reason I was late was because I had slept in that morning."?

| improve this question | | | | |
5

Both are acceptable: the reason at the time was x and it still is X, and will be in the future.

So which you use depends on the context.

  • If you’re explaining to your boss why you arrived late an hour ago, you would use is:

    Gee, Mr. Sartorius, I'm sorry: the reason I was late is because I slept in this morning.

  • If at lunch you’re telling a friend what you said to your boss, you would use was:

    So I told him the reason I was late was because I slept in this morning.

  • But if some weeks later you’re telling somebody why you got fired, you’d have to change the time reference:

    So I told him the reason I was late was because I slept in that morning.

And by the way, you might not have been fired if you hadn’t said you slept in—that implies, at least in US usage, that you did it on purpose. Next time tell your new boss I overslept, and maybe he’ll be more forgiving!

| improve this answer | | | | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.