was/were after if/wish

Magg

Senior Member
Spain / Spanish
Hello,

My 'English Grammar in Use' says we can use were instead of was with I and he/she/it after if and wish, from what I take for granted was isn't wrongly used.

On the other hand, some friend's teachers advice them to only use were.

Could anyone tell me the right rule?

Thanks a lot
Magg

PS -- Sorry, I thought I was in the grammar forum.
 
  • cristóbal

    Senior Member
    EEUU/Inglés
    What you're asking about is the remnant of the subjunctive in English. The correct way to say "Ojalá fuera..." is "I wish I/he/she/it were" and "Si yo fuera rey..." "If I were the king..."
    however, many people say "was" instead because they have no idea what the subjunctive even is... the rule is "were" not "was".
     

    Masood

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes you can. I would only use it with (e.g.) the equivalent of si fuera yo
    If I were you, I'd clean up this mess before mum gets home!
    I dont like to say he were/she were/it were, personally:
    If he was my friend, I'd ask him to lend me the money.
    If it was Friday, I'd take the day off.


    With 'wish', I'm not so sure
    I wish I was a millionaire....
    to me, sounds much better than
    I wish I were a millionaire....

    Hope this helps.

    (I need to take cover from all the flak coming my way now)
     

    cristóbal

    Senior Member
    EEUU/Inglés
    Nevertheless, "were" is the correct way in all those examples, Masood.
    However, like you said, it comes pretty natural to say "was" for many of us. I would recommend using "were" since you're not native, Magg, but for us natives it's harder to kick the "was" habit. :D
     

    paultucker79

    Senior Member
    UK,English
    cristóbal said:
    What you're asking about is the remnant of the subjunctive in English. The correct way to say "Ojalá fuera..." is "I wish I/he/she/it were" and "Si yo fuera rey..." "If I were the king..."
    however, many people say "was" instead because they have no idea what the subjunctive even is... the rule is "were" not "was".

    Cristobal is correct - many people don't know that the subjunctive exists. I think most would know "if I were you....." but they wouldn't know why. Far less people would say "if it were friday", I think even I would use "was" here, just because "were" sounds a bit strange even though it is correct
     
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