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If it wasn't/weren't ... If I was/were ...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by asuuucar, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. asuuucar Senior Member

    Poland
    Poland, Polish
    i just have quiet of a doubt...

    If it wasn't/weren't a problem for you, please come to the meeting tomorrow.

    in this sentence, which form is purely gramatically correct? And - are both forms acceptable in the spoken language?

    and in the first person, it'd be if I were or If I was or both?
     
  2. daniel6290 Junior Member

    USA--English
    "If it isn't a problem for you, please..." (the meeting tomorrow implies the future; "wasn't" and "weren't" are in the past)

    An example in the past would be "If it wasn't a problem for you, why didn't you come to the meeting yesterday?"

    "Wasn't" is gramatically correct. "If it weren't" would not be used in spoken language either.

    And in the first person use "If I were you". Example, "I would leave now if I were you."
     
  3. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    I agree with daniel6290; however, I would add that "If it weren't" could be used and would be used in some contexts:

    If it weren't for my dad, I would have dropped out of school last year.
    If it weren't for you, I'd have given up long ago.
     
  4. asuuucar Senior Member

    Poland
    Poland, Polish
    So you want to say that
    (1) If it wasn't a problem for you, please... AND
    (2) If it weren't a problem for you, please... are both perfectly fine?

    So in spoken language I can only use (1)?

    so for 100%, 'If I was rich, I'd buy myself a helicopter' is incorrect?
     
  5. wijmlet Senior Member

    New York City
    English USA
    You ask:

    So you want to say that
    (1) If it wasn't a problem for you, please... AND
    (2) If it weren't a problem for you, please... are both perfectly fine?

    Neither is fine. If it isn't a problem (with reference to the future)...

    Use were(n't) with all grammatical persons in a hypothetical, conditional sense, with or suggesting IF:

    If I were you, were I you,
    If he were king, etc.
     
  6. asuuucar Senior Member

    Poland
    Poland, Polish
    I meant the phrase 'if it weren't/wasn't a problem,...' to be hypothetical and there isn't any obstacle for this sentence to be used in a conditional sense, is there?
    So, 'If I was a king, i'd have a great kingdom' is incorrect?
     
  7. wijmlet Senior Member

    New York City
    English USA
    1. I meant the phrase 'if it weren't/wasn't a problem,...' to be hypothetical and there isn't any obstacle for this sentence to be used in a conditional sense, is there?

    a. If it weren't for lack of education, he would be a good writer: hypothetical case[=If he had a better education] Don't use WASN'T here.

    b. If it wasn't one thing that caused a problem, it was another: true event in past [=one thing or another really did cause a problem] Do use WASN'T here.


    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wijmlet [​IMG]
    Use were(n't) with all grammatical persons in a hypothetical, conditional sense, with or suggesting IF

    2. So, 'If I was a king, i'd have a great kingdom' is incorrect?

    WERE is better than WAS here. WAS sounds less literate/educated but is understandable.
     
  8. asuuucar Senior Member

    Poland
    Poland, Polish
    Really thanks to all for the effort!

    So, to resume, correctly speaking:

    (A) for hypothetical sentences: If I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they WERE(N'T) (...)
    (B) for true events in the past: If I/you/he/she/it/we/you/they + PAST SIMPLE, (...)

    Additionally, in (A), you can use WAS(N'T) but it sounds less literate/educated.

    Is this true?
     
  9. chattycathyLA New Member

    english
    What a great site with great info!!

    OK, how about this one? I wish I wasn't (or weren't) sick. I am currently sick, so it's not in the future tense. Is it "I wish I wasn't sick right now"? OR is it "I wish I weren't sick right now"?

    <<Suggestion of another question removed by moderator - see private message :)>>
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  10. Sycdan New Member

    English - NZ
    Hi asuuucar :),

    In this case, actually neither is correct, as Daniel said. Because the hypothesis (that it isn't a problem for the person) is being assumed true by the speaker, then you are right in that you must use the indicative mood, not the subjunctive, so the use of was' as opposed to 'were' is correct.

    However, where as 'were' as a subjunctive can be used for future events (eg. "If I were going to the movies tomorrow..."), 'was' cannot; it is a past tense form. In your sentence, the conditional is talking about a present state - whether at present the person is available to attend the meeting - so you use the non-past tense 'isn't' instead of the past tense 'wasn't':

    "If it isn't a problem for you, please come to the meeting tomorrow."


    If 'it being a problem' is a past state, however, then 'wasn't' would be the right word. For example:

    "If it wasn't a problem for you, why didn't you come to the meeting?"


    Hope this helps! I cannot yet post links, as I have not yet made enough posts, but if you search and look at my first post, I have some more examples and a longer explanation of when to use subjunctive (eg. "If it weren't") and when to use indicative ("If it weren't") which you might find useful :)

    << CLICK HERE - link added by moderator >>

    Thanks,

    Nick
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2009
  11. Sycdan New Member

    English - NZ
    Hi Cathy,

    In general, you use the indicative (is, was, am) if and only if you are indicating that a statement or hypothesis is true, and the subjunctive if you are not making a judgement about a statements truth value, or - by not indicating that it is true - implying that it is not true.

    In your sentence, you are expressing a wish that you were not sick. However, as you say, this is not actually the case - and you are not indicating that you are not sick, as you wish, but that you are. Therefore, the subjunctive, 'weren't', is the correct word to use :).

    In practice a lot of people, especially in colloquial speech, do use the indicative 'was' with the word 'wish', however, so maybe we traditionalists are the wrong ones in clinging to our 'old ways' lol. Really though, English is the language of all of us, not just the linguistically progressive, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised how one with refreshingly conservative grammar can affect other's speech :)

    Nick
     
  12. chattycathyLA New Member

    english
    Thank you, Nick. I think I "get" it now. Because my current situation is that of "sickness", then wishing it not to be so requires the use of the subjunctive to be completely "proper".

    I wish I understood the tenses. This is where I failed to grasp the Spanish language. I couldn't tell you what the subjunctive would be in English, much less a foreign language. I only recall being taught the names of the various parts of the sentence in one semester of grade school and I didn't understand it then. Perhaps this site has a "primer" on all of this. It would not only help me with English, but perhaps I could go back and learn how to conjugate and use Spanish verbs a well.

    I agree and have been trying to be more proactive about using correct grammar. :D I have found that my education (up to Master's level) has not prepared me as well as it should have. This is probably in reaction to the widespread misuse of grammar on the web. Everyone is using MySpace or Twitter or blogging, and most of the language I see is atrocious!

    One only has to view the various social networking websites to see how people have become accustomed to improper usage of the words "your" and "you're". And these are college graduates! Pretty soon, it will be considered grammatically correct to say "Your so vain", although Carly Simon, who penned the song, would be appalled (as she comes from a publishing family)!

    I've seen so many apostrophes improperly used that I don't even know what's correct anymore. For example, "She likes to get present's". But, this discussion is for another thread. ;)
     

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