Can I use If he/she/he were ....

Discussion in 'English Only' started by boubata, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. boubata Member

    Algeria languages: Arabic/English/french/ some german
    Dear friends ,
    I would like to know if I can use the auxiliary were after he ,she,it as I can often use it with I in this example: If I were you ,I would tell him the truth.
    Another question: How about you,they,we ?Can I use was instead of were?
    Thank you in advance.
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    Many people in BE reserve the subjunctive (were) for counterfactual or impossible conditions, thus:

    If I were you...
    If I were to fly to the moon...

    And use the indicative (was) for conditions which are distinctly possible:

    If I was to ask you to help me with this...
    If he was to prove awkward about this...

    Sometimes you might use the subjunctive to suggest to someone that the condition is unlikely to be met:

    If he were to report this matter to the police....

    I ought to add that many people who aren't very strict in their use of the language use the subjunctive for distinctly possible conditions, clumsily in my view.
  3. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    Yes, you can use "were" after all of those pronouns.

    For example:

    If he were honest, he never would have made such a ridiculous claim.
    If they were not so stubborn, we could have come to an agreement by now.
  4. boubata Member

    Algeria languages: Arabic/English/french/ some german
    thank you .You have helped me so much.

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