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  1. #1
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default if I were in America and there was/were....

    In the sentence If I were in America and there was/were a man doing sth,then..., which verb should be used?

    For a present impossible situation, we will say If I were..., but half of my English and American friends will use If I was..., which is not standard, but acceptable nowadays meaning the same thing; I know all the conditonal sentence rules, but they just don't help.
    "If I were in America and there was a man..."
    Last edited by bhaisahab; 19-Oct-2012 at 12:08.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    In the sentence If I were in America and there was/were a man doing sth,then..., which verb should be used?
    I'd say either. The second situation could be seen as less hypothetical- a fact dependent on the first part.

  3. #3
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    I'd say "were" for the first and "was" for the second. It is your being in America that is "impossible."

    And yes, many natives use "was" for this. They don't know what the "subjunctive" is.

  4. #4
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    Thank you. It seems better to use was.

  5. #5
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    I'd say "were" for the first and "was" for the second. It is your being in America that is "impossible."

    And yes, many natives use "was" for this. They don't know what the "subjunctive" is.
    With all due respect, can't agree with Dave's reasoning here. Both events here are equally hypothetical (I'm not sure that the term 'impossible' is ever really appropriate in discussions of conditionals...), and there is therefore no more, or less, reason to use the subjunctive for the second than there is for the first.

    That said, however, since the past indicative (was) is widely accepted by many native users of English even for counterfactual hypotheticals of this kind, there is clearly no grammatical problem posed by mixing the two forms. Some speakers might, however, object on stylistic grounds.

  6. #6
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    Does it mean that in that sentence there were a man.... is also OK?

  7. #7
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    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: if I were in America and there was/were....

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Does it mean that in that sentence there were a man.... is also OK?
    Yes

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