Can I use present tense after 'because' here: "He said he was flagging me because he thinks I am..."

Can I use present tense after **because **here: “He said he was flagging me because he thinks I am copy pasting stuff from the dictionary.”? I see this structure sometimes and wonder if it is correct English. Or is it necessary to write it like this: “He said he was flagging me because **he thought I was **copy pasting stuff from the dictionary.”?

First version seems good to me, I am a non native speaker of English though, what are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.

Also this sentence:“They told me he was allowed in there because that’s the sex he wants to be”.Why is it not like this “They told me he was allowed in there because that’s the sex he wanted to be”?

Thanks in advance.

The first version of each of these sentences is correct. What matters in determining the tense is not whether the condition (his thoughts about your copying, what sex he wants to be) existed in the past, but whether it still exists in the present.

Since presumably he still thinks you were copying, and he still wants to be that sex, it’s fine to use present tense. If those conditions no longer existed, you would need to use past tense.

This sentence implies that he no longer wants to be that sex. If he still wants to be that sex, it is incorrect.

I see nothing wrong with that sentence. “he” wanted to be treated as female so “they” allowed him to use the female changing room. You may disagree with the decision, but not with the grammar.

It depends upon your meaning. Did you mean that he was copy/pasting stuff or did you mean that he continues to do so. Did you mean that he still does not want to be that sex or did you mean he changed his mind.

I do not agree that it implies he no longer wants to be that sex. You’d need to add a qualification “…that’s the sex he wanted to be but no longer wants to be…” if you wanted to restrict it entirely to the past.

Verb tense is not always strictly representational, (though many people don’t realize it). In other words, the past tense does not always refer to the past, and what the OP calls “present” tense is not necessarily happening now, in “the present.”

When someone says, for example, I walk in the park for exercise, it doesn’t mean he is walking there now. Rather, it implies that he has walked in the park in the past, and probably will continue to do so in the future. This is particularly the case with stative verbs such as think, (as in the title).

So there’s nothing wrong with the sentence in the title, since it implies that the “he” in the sentence continues to think the speaker is copying things from the dictionary.

Yes, it’s probably more common to use tense consistency, and say, “He said he was flagging me because he thought I was pasting stuff from the dictionary,” which leaves open the possibility that he has changed his thoughts by now.

I remember a story (fictional…but believable) about Nazi Germany and the Gestapo. Roughly paraphrased…

“John was sitting at home. There was a knock at the door. John froze in fear. There was another knock, and now John relaxed. They never knock twice.”

The jump from past tense to present tense is not exactly regular, but it works. It can be taken as a direct quote of John’s thoughts, but doesn’t have to be. It’s an observation, and works even as coming from the omniscient narrator.

English has only one verb “to be”, regardless of whether it is permanent or temporary state of being. (Spanish distinguishes “ser” from “estar” according to that.) But in English, a permanent state of “to be” can be implied by retaining it into the present for a past condition. When you do that, you are indicating that the state of being is in fact a permanent one, for example, that the person habitually cuts/pastes and cannot be cured of that.

It’s okay.

Better: “He said he flagged me because he thinks I am…”

Your example doesn’t support your claim. Your example is that right now, at the moment, the park is where that someone walks in the park for exercise.

The MEANING isn’t that he is currently doing excercise in the park, the meaning is that it is likely that he did go there before and likely that he will in the future … and that is true at the moment.

Why he was banned in the past may be because of a currently still true idea. Maybe its better to use the same tense such as “I had learned that he was cut and pasting”… which works because the meaning remains the same from then into till now and into the future , as the learning can be assumed to be permanent…
Reasons for using one toilet in the past may be better said as past tense, because the person may have changed his mind on his sex since then, and you don’t want this to confuse the facts… the facts (of why he used that toilet at the time) are what the person believed at the time and what he currently believes or wants now. Its a contrived situation, highlighted because probably someone talking about being a transvestite using a ladies toilet would probably say they started using ladies toilets back then and has used them since then until now and will into the future too. Why is the sentence restricted to the past ? Without the full context , we don’t know why the report on toilet usage is restricted to the past.

Of course. You don’t seem to understand my “claim.” Obliviously I wasn’t questioning that. Rather, I was questioning the notion of purely representational tenses, and, in fact, the notion of the term “present tense” as used by the OP.

Maybe better, maybe not–and either way that’s very nice of you to offer–but the OP isn’t asking for a “better” way to say it.

I disagree. If he says he flagged me, it has to be for a past action, not an ongoing one. The proper tense structure is “He said he was flagging me because I had been copying and passing from the dictionary.” Or, if you make it more direct, it is “He said he flagged me because I had copied and pasted from the dictionary.”

You’re in the past in describing his action, and the action he is flagging you over is further in the past.

The meaning is slightly different.

The first sentence means that he thought you were copying and pasting stuff regularly as a habit, or continually, or that you are still doing it.

The second sentence means he thought you were copying and pasting on a particular occasion.