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  1. #1
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    Default If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Dear Teacher(s),



    In our daily conversation, we always make use with this phase. Which giving meaning that if someone was that particular person (other), he or she would do something in different ways.


    Now, my confusion is that as following:

    Q1: If I were/was/am you,.......

    Q2: If I were/was/am a millionaire,.......


    I'm in doubt that might be "were" because I heard that before.
    I think it could be "was" because in past continuous tense, the "I" should use the "was" as the verb to be.
    As for the "am" appears because, I'm not sure in the sentence as I claimed should be past tense or present tense.


    Thanks for you reply in advance.




    Fairylord
    Bad Englisher

  2. #2
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    The correct versions are "if I were you" and "if I were a rich man" :)

    Even if you're talking about something happening right now, you would still use "were".
    By the same logic, the sentence needs to continue with a past tense, which is "would".

    "If I were you, I wouldn't do that."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by Elif View Post
    The correct versions are "if I were you" and "if I were a rich man" :)

    Even if you're talking about something happening right now, you would still use "were".
    By the same logic, the sentence needs to continue with a past tense, which is "would".

    "If I were you, I wouldn't do that."

    Thank you, Teacher Elif for your quick answer.



    Cheers,
    Fairylord
    I love this forum~

  4. #4
    albeit is offline Banned
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by Elif View Post
    The correct versions are "if I were you" and "if I were a rich man" :)

    Even if you're talking about something happening right now, you would still use "were".
    Using 'were' does not make them the correct versions, Elif. Using the sunjunctive 'were' makes the choices more formal and it is what is normally used in more formal aspects of Standard English, like writing. The subjunctive forms, only a couple are left, are an almost dead part of what was once a much fuller English subjunctive system.

    BrE doesn't make as extensive a use of the present subjunctive; does that make it incorrect? These are simply language changes, things that happen with great regularity.

    Q1: If I were/was you,.......

    Q2: If I were/was a millionaire,.......

    First, both these hold identical meaning and again the only difference is that 'was' is more informal.

    Q1: If I am you,.......

    Q2: If I am a millionaire,.......

    Certainly the second one is possible and we occasionally use the indicative form as a denial of a previous statement,

    Bill: Jack's a rich guy. He's a millionaire.

    Jack: If I am a millionaire, how come I live in a 500 square foot house?

    "If I am a millionaire" says, "Allowing that "I am a millionaire" purely for the sake of further discussion, ..."

    Quote Originally Posted by Elif View Post
    By the same logic, the sentence needs to continue with a past tense, which is "would".

    "If I were you, I wouldn't do that."
    'would' is not a past tense, Elif. Neither is 'were' or 'was'. The latter two are past tense FORMS used for this special purpose. and 'would' is the Historical past tense FORM also used for a special purpose.

    In modern English modal Verbs are tenseless. They can operate in all time situations. For a further discussion on tenseless modal verbs, see

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...upposed-2.html
    Last edited by albeit; 25-Sep-2009 at 22:33.

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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    The subjunctive is not dead.

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    albeit is offline Banned
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    The subjunctive is not dead.
    "almost dead " was what I wrote, Pro. Please read more carefully.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Using 'were' does not make them the correct versions, Elif. Using the sunjunctive 'were' makes the choices more formal and it is what is normally used in more formal aspects of Standard English, like writing. The subjunctive forms, only a couple are left, are an almost dead part of what was once a much fuller English subjunctive system.

    BrE doesn't make as extensive a use of the present subjunctive; does that make it incorrect? These are simply language changes, things that happen with great regularity.

    Q1: If I were/was you,.......

    Q2: If I were/was a millionaire,.......

    First, both these hold identical meaning and again the only difference is that 'was' is more informal.

    Q1: If I am you,.......

    Q2: If I am a millionaire,.......

    Certainly the second one is possible and we occasionally use the indicative form as a denial of a previous statement,

    Bill: Jack's a rich guy. He's a millionaire.

    Jack: If I am a millionaire, how come I live in a 500 square foot house?

    "If I am a millionaire" says, "Allowing that "I am a millionaire" purely for the sake of further discussion, ..."



    'would' is not a past tense, Elif. Neither is 'were' or 'was'. The latter two are past tense FORMS used for this special purpose. and 'would' is the Historical past tense FORM also used for a special purpose.

    In modern English modal Verbs are tenseless. They can operate in all time situations. For a further discussion on tenseless modal verbs, see

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...upposed-2.html
    I agree the subjunctive is almost dead in English. But as I've said before, conditions are not introduced by subjunctives in the Indo-European languages; they are described by the past imperfect or past tense. If I X, I would Y, where X is a past tense and Y is a conditional.

    A number of people call the verb subjunctive in "if I were you," but I feel it's more likely a variant of a past tense form (cf. Manchester region: "it were" = it was.)

    Si je savais comment courir, je serais dans les jeux olympiques.

    If I knew how to run, I would be in the Olympic games.

    The other Indo-European languages work in the same way.

    So I think the remnants of the subjunctive in English are these:

    He was afraid she might miss the train.
    It is crucial that you be here on time.

    These are most definitely subjunctives, and resemble the spelling of imperatives, as subjunctives tend to do in the other IE languages.

    I think it's misinformed to assume "If I were you" is some form of subjunctive.

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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    I think it's misinformed to assume "If I were you" is some form of subjunctive.
    The "were" in "if I were you" corresponds to what is called subjunctive in a couple or three other languages, wouldn't you say? (for example, se eu fosse voce, si yo fuera tu)

    To me, the big mistake is calling this use of "were" the subjunctive, as in THE Subjunctive, as if it were, and it's not, of course, the one and only subjunctive. It is certainly not "The Subjunctive". If it's to be referred to as subjunctive, it is simply one subjunctive form or one possible subjunctive form.
    Last edited by PROESL; 26-Sep-2009 at 03:18.

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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    "almost dead " was what I wrote, Pro. Please read more carefully.
    The subjunctive is not almost dead. It's heard every day. Please, observe more carefully, alb.

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    albeit is offline Banned
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    Default Re: If I "were" OR "was" OR "am" you....

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post

    To me, the big mistake is calling this use of "were" the subjunctive, as in THE Subjunctive, as if it were, and it' not, of course, the one and only subjunctive. It is certainly not "The Subjunctive". If it's to be referred to as subjunctive, it is simply one subjunctive form or one possible subjunctive form.
    Using 'the' in front of a noun does not suggest that it is the only one, Pro. We have a form for that; it's thee.

    "I'm going to watch the baseball game tonight" does not entail that there's only one ball game on.

    "I'm going to watch baseball game tonight" wouldn't be natural English.

    I don't think I've ever seen anyone refer to it as THE subjunctive in any literature I've ever come across. What would be the purpose?

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