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Koh Elaine
Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 9:10:04 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/4/2012
Posts: 1,679
Neurons: 7,059
Why is it that one was born as a human? Why is it that among people who were born as humans, there are people who were born into a rich family, while there are people who were born into a poor family?


1. Is the sentence OK?

I think the was should be changed to is , and the were in each case should be changed to are. Am I right?

Thanks.
You know who I am
Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 9:58:06 AM

Rank: Member

Joined: 1/13/2017
Posts: 494
Neurons: 4,181
Location: Olinda, Pernambuco, Brazil
Koh Elaine wrote:
Why is it that one was born as a human? Why is it that among people who were born as humans, there are people who were born into a rich family, while there are people who were born into a poor family?


1. Is the sentence OK?

I think the was should be changed to is , and the were in each case should be changed to are. Am I right?

Thanks.


Hello, Koh.

I really think that such questions can't be answered. Why? Because it depends pretty much on the context. If you say: Why is it that one is born as a human? Why is it that among people who are born as humans, there are people who are born into a rich family.. it would probably sound like a habitual action, i.e: Something that often happens. And if you put all the be verbs into the past tense, it will probably sound like telling a history.

So, I'd say both ways are correct, depending on what you want to mean.

Have a happy Easter!


I am the way, and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 11:56:12 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/12/2011
Posts: 25,198
Neurons: 131,113
Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Yes - both are correct (so long as each version is consistent).

If this is the "introductory attention-grabbing paragraph" for a speech or an article on karma (which is what I guess it is), then the present tense sounds better.
As your other answer says, it shows a repeated action - people are born (maybe rich, maybe poor) every second.

***********
On the point of style - if I am right about this being the opening line, designed to make people read on - it would be better if it were "short and snappy".

Why were you born human?
Why are some people born rich and some born poor?


Writers have a technical name for this first line, but I don't remember it.
One name is "opening shot" or "opening line", but there is another one which means something like "attention grabber" - but it definitely not that phrase.


Wyrd bið ful aræd - bull!
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