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「確か、明日は先生の誕生日でしたよね。」

Came across this sentence during my Japanese class and am having trouble understanding the nuance behind it and why でした can be used in this manner.

I tried asking my Japanese teacher why でした was used in this scenario instead of です. She said it had to do with the nuance of the sentence. She said that using です is not wrong but that でした is better.

I'm still a bit confused by it all so I'm hoping someone might be able to shed some light on this.

marked as duplicate by l'électeur, Chocolate grammar Apr 15 '18 at 9:49

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  • 'If I recall, the teacher's birthday was tomorrow, right?' Seems fine to me even in English ... – Aeon Akechi Apr 15 '18 at 6:30
  • @AeonAkechi But wouldn't "is" be used instead of "was" in English? "If I recall, the teacher's birthday is tomorrow, right?" – joelfong Apr 15 '18 at 6:39
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    "Jap class", "Jap teacher"??? What are you? A WWII veteran? – l'électeur Apr 15 '18 at 7:41
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    In some parts of the world people think of that as a simple abbreviation and don't realize how offensive it is to some people… – snailboat Apr 15 '18 at 8:38
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Not sure I'll be able to clearly convey this, but hear me out.

「確か、明日は先生の誕生日ですよね。」in and of itself is grammatically correct. If you were to say this to your teacher, nobody around you would look at you funny.

In your example, that「でした」denotes a fact you had assumed to be true in the past. You are saying that "you remember, at a certain point in the past, that your birthday was this particular day."

As one of the commenter pointed out, the difference here would be translated into English as: 「ですよね。」"I believe tomorrow is your birthday, right?" 「でしたよね。」"I believe tomorrow was your birthday, right?" Nothing really special here if you speak English. it's pretty much exactly the same interpretation in Japanese.

You could also look at it from a confidence stand point. You are much more confident when using「ですよね。」than「でしたよね。」 - again, the difference would be something like "I believe tomorrow is your birthday" compared to "I believe tomorrow was your birthday."

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    You would need to use the proper grammar term for that 「た」 if you were to answer this question. – l'électeur Apr 15 '18 at 7:47

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