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Die Küste von Tyvrei ist der erste Ort, der mir eingefallen ist.

{or}: Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir eingefallen ist.

I could easily imagine myself asking the same question about its equivalent English or French sentence construction, but...

When you are talking about a past event, as evidenced by the part eingefallen ist, I wonder if you should match the tense and use war.

At the same time, though, I'm just as inclined to use the present tense ist, mainly because the coast is a place that still exists today, as opposed to something that no longer exists.

2

I would say the synchronicity of time has not the same importance in German than in English.

But here it is logical: When it was the first location, which came to your mind, then it IS still the first location which came to your mind.

This means, I would consider all the following sentences valid. The main difference is what you want to emphasize. Do you want to emphasize that the process of remembering was in the past or not. Are there other locations which have come to your mind later, etc.

Die Küste von Tyvrei ist der erste Ort, der mir eingefallen ist.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir eingefallen ist.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir einfiel.

Die Küste von Tyvrei ist der erste Ort, der mir einfiel.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir einfiel.

(Not surprising- imperfect tense and perfect tense are nearly always interchangeable in German. Even less surprising is:)

Die Küste von Tyvrei ist der erste Ort, der mir einfällt.

Only wrong is: Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir einfällt.

This one takes away the choice of present tense, because here it is clear that the first idea has been not correct. Present perfect and imperfect are still interchangeable.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir als Urlaubsziel einfiel, bevor ich mich erinnerte, dass es sie gar nicht gibt.
(
Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir als Urlaubsziel eingefallen ist, bevor ich mich erinnerte, dass es sie gar nicht gibt.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir als Urlaubsziel eingefallen ist, bevor ich mich erinnert habe, dass es sie gar nicht gibt.

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir als Urlaubsziel einfiel, bevor ich mich erinnert habe, dass es sie gar nicht gibt.
)

Using only one tense instead of two in one sentence seems slightly better style though, so when you use "war" in the sentence, it is quite convenient to stay in imperfect tense and use "einfiel" and "erinnerte". But it is not a must.

0

It depends on your perspective on things: where do you place in time the event of remembering this piece of land. If you choose "ist" you suggest that the image of that coast is still in your head; if you choose "war" you suggest that the entire story (including the act of remembering) happened in the past and the image of that coast is not any more so present in your head.

But these are very petty considerations. In everyday language, the 'ist' version is more probable to occur. In a novel or so, you probably would find the "war" version, although then it would most probably be

Die Küste von Tyvrei war der erste Ort, der mir einfiel.

  • Thank you. Is it strange to use the Präteritum "einfiel" in conversation? I suppose it is, though. – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Apr 20 '17 at 9:22
  • In informal oral language (e.g. in a talk with your colleagues over a cup of coffee) it would be unusual to use Präteritum, indeed. At least in a sentence like in your example. But it depends. You still would usually say: "Gestern war ich im Kino", not "Gestern bin ich im Kino gewesen". I suppose this is for brevity's sake. But if you say "Gestern ging ich ins Kino" (as opposed to: "Gestern bin ich ins Kino gegangen") you demonstrate that you are not entirely used to using oral German properly. – Christian Geiselmann Apr 20 '17 at 9:27
  • PS: In one of the related questions in this forum quite a good and simple rule is given for oral German: Präteritum "war" and "wollte" are in common use, but for other verbs use Perfekt (bin gegangen, habe gegessen) to be on the safe side. – Christian Geiselmann Apr 20 '17 at 9:52
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    Note the preferences for Perfekt or Präteritum over the other are regionally very different. The further you come to the South, the more you will find Perfekt used exclusively. Most of the southern German dialects don't even have the concept of Präteritum. – tofro Apr 20 '17 at 16:19
  • One should be careful with generalisations regarding the use of past and past perfect in colloquial speech, as it very much depends on the region and the individual. We have questions about this on this site. – Carsten S May 2 '17 at 17:56

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