Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    hznaeem is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Occitan
      • Home Country:
      • Spain
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Got confused!
    As a basic grammar rule we say 'He was ....', but I came across sentences in an English novel saying 'He lowered his voice as if he were disclosing a confidential matter'.
    In another similar sentence 'as if I were looking at them'
    Can someone explain where should we make the difference in was and were?
    Views welcome
    Thanks

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is online now Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    15,699
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    If you go to the very top of the page, hznaheem, and enter was and were in the search box, you'll find links to many discussions on this topic.

    Try this for a start:

    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/li...g-instead.html

    Rover

  3. #3
    7-sided Dice is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Other
      • Native Language:
      • Macedonian
      • Home Country:
      • Macedonia
      • Current Location:
      • Macedonia
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Posts
    6
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    I'm not a teacher.

    I believe that's a conditional clause (don't take my word for it though).
    You say "If it were possible", not "If it was possible".

  4. #4
    hznaeem is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Occitan
      • Home Country:
      • Spain
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Hi thanks for the kind info, I just read out the link/thread, it's a bit complicated for me as a non-native speaker to understand the complex/controversial use of subjunctives.
    But I got a result from the long discussion in the thread that there are some exceptions in Eglish language known as 'subjunctives', well grammatically they haven't been proved, but this is the fact that their use is common in English. Am I right?
    Thanks

  5. #5
    hznaeem is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Occitan
      • Home Country:
      • Spain
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Arrow Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Rover[/QUOTE]
    Kindly have a look at my other thread
    http://www.usingenglish.com/forum/as...r-nor-etc.html
    Thanks

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Quote Originally Posted by hznaeem View Post
    I got a result from the long discussion in the thread that there are some exceptions in Eglish language known as 'subjunctives', well grammatically they haven't been proved, but this is the fact that their use is common in English. Am I right?
    It's not a question of their having 'been proved'. In many Indo-European languages (such as French and German, for example) a form of the verb known as the subjunctive is used for hypothetical or counterfactual situations. The form that is used for factual situations, i.e. the one that we use most of the time, is known as the indicative. In modern English (also an Indo-European language), many speakers are unaware of the existence of the subjunctive. In the past tense form (which is not necessarily used for past-time hypothetical situations), there is only one verb, BE, that has subjunctive forms that are different from the indicative forms, first and third person were.

    If he were here now, I would be happy.
    This is the subjunctive.
    If he was here now, I would be happy. This is the indicative. People who use the subjunctive form regularly claim that this is 'incorrect', but many people use it. I, and many writers on grammar, do not consider that it is incorrect in modern British English.
    If I had a lot of money, I'd buy a private jet. As the subjunctive and indicative forms of all verbs except BE are identical in appearance, the question of which form is used here appears unimportant to me.

  7. #7
    hznaeem is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Interested in Language
      • Native Language:
      • Occitan
      • Home Country:
      • Spain
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    46
    Post Thanks / Like

    Thumbs up Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    It's not a question of their having 'been proved'. In many Indo-European languages......................................... .....question of which form is used here appears unimportant to me.
    Well a simple answer I got from all this long discussion and arguments is that:
    YES we can use boldly and confidently sentences like "if he were" "If I were" etc. And they cannot be termed as wrong. That was the basic question for which I posted this thread. Thanks to all of you for guidance.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,167
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Use of 'were' with 'he'

    Quote Originally Posted by hznaeem View Post
    YES we can use boldly and confidently sentences like "if he were" "If I were" etc. And they cannot be termed as wrong.
    Be careful.

    John was normally a pleasant child, but he would do some very strange things if he was in a bad mood.

    The writer is describing what used to happen occasionally in the past. Only the indicative was is correct here.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 21-Mar-2009, 21:47
  2. 'he' refers to whom
    By kohyoongliat in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 15-Jun-2007, 18:02

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •