if there were any money left after all of these

< Previous | Next >

lokasseyve

Senior Member
Mandarin
Hi,
When being asked what I would do if I had one hundred thousand dollars, I reply:
I would buy my mom a pearl necklace, which she has long wanted. Then I would give my brother an allowance of $ 10000. I would go to a fancy resturant with my friends. We would have a hearty meal. If there were any money left after all of these, I would bank the rest.

I wrote this passage. I'm not sure if the underlined part makes sense. Is there other way to express?

Thank you so much.
 
  • vincix

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    "Money" takes the singular form. "If there was any money left". And I wouldn't include "after all of these". It's implied.
     

    lokasseyve

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Hi vincix,
    Thanks for your suggestion.
    But I think it should be "were" because it is the subjunctive.
    What do you think?
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Vincix was right to prefer the indicative "was" in that sentence. The subjunctive sounds odd there; it makes it sound as though it would be highly unlikely for there to be any money left at all.
    AE speakers might be less surprised to see the subjunctive there. (?)
     

    vincix

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    I wanted to say something about the subjunctive in my initial post, but then I deleted it because I thought it was wrong. But Velisarius answered it.

    @velisarius So the only difference in this case relates only to the likelihood of this happening, of having any money left?
     

    vincix

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    To my mind, there's also a matter of register. The subjunctive after "if" is not so common, actually, but it does depend on what verbs you use.
    If he steal, he will be punished.
    That's not wrong, but it's formal and perhaps even old-fashioned. I think any native speaker would say "If he steals..."
    Moreover, if I wanted to express improbability, I'd say:
    "If he should steal" or, even less probable, "If he were to steal".
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Both was and were are correct (although the latter is formal), mean the same and it has nothing to do with the level of probability. "if he steal" is incorrect.
     

    grassy

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Aren't we discussing contemporary language here? :D
    And by highly formal do you mean that such a structure could be found in contemporary formal writing?
     

    vincix

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    Aren't we discussing contemporary language here? :D
    And by highly formal do you mean that such a structure could be found in contemporary formal writing?
    I feel that the only right response is to apologize. I apologize.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Both was and were are correct (although the latter is formal), mean the same and it has nothing to do with the level of probability. "if he steal" is incorrect.
    I'm not clear that Grassy has accepted Velisarius's point, here.

    For me, and, it seems, for many BE speakers, the use of the subjunctive has a great deal to do with the level of probability, and not so much to do with the degree of formality.

    The books talk, unhelpfully, in my view, of hypothetical and unreal situations here but not many of them make the crucial distinction, made by many in BE, between the impossible condition (use the subjunctive - if I were you:)) and the quite probable condition (use the indicative - if there was any money left:)).

    I think this is the point that Velisarius is making and if it is, I agree with her entirely.

    Note that in American English, according to many AE members here, the subjunctive wouldn't sound strange in the case of quite probable conditions, and the indicative sounds uneducated to many, even there (if there was any money left:eek:)

    For impossible conditions, in BE (as well as AE) the indicative sounds uneducated (if I was you:thumbsdown::eek:)
     
    Last edited:

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, thank you Mr T.T.:) You've explained what I meant much better than I could. (Incidentally I do usually feel that the subjunctive has a "formal" feel to it, though that was not what worried me about the OP sentence.)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top