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    #1

    Were or was?

    Should I use were or was in this sentence:

    If a public healthcare system were implemented in America, its benefits would outweigh the costs.

    Is 'were' the right word and 'was' the wrong word because there is no public healthcare in America?

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    #2

    Re: Were or was?

    I was taught by inverse example. In my day, a popular song went "I wish I was a princess." This is wrong because (regardless of my gender), there is not one hope in hell of my marrying into royalty. I will never be a princess.

    So, the correct thing would be to sing, "I wish I were a princess." I didn't wish for a crown, but at least it taught me the difference between was and were. Were expresses the unlikely proposition.

    Regrettably, therefore, I believe "were" may indeed be correct in your example.

    But, if you remain optimistic, and risk being branded a Socialist or worse, then you might say "If a public health care system was implemented...." There IS a chance - at least a lot better than my becoming a princess.

    You never realized that your grammar could reveal your political stripes, did you!?


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    #3

    Re: Were or was?

    YouTube - Fiddler on the roof - If I were a rich man (with subtitles)

    Tevye was a milkman, and not a promising young businessman. So, were. Right?

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    #4

    Re: Were or was?

    Perfect. You can learn by finding correct examples. I learned by wrong examples!

    Another example I can't shake, "Winston tastes good, like a cigaret should," taught me that "like" is wrong; should be "as." Or the way cartoon Tom the Cat pronounces "despicable" is wrong, so I have remembered how to say it correctly.


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    #5

    Re: Were or was?

    Quote Originally Posted by jlinger View Post
    Perfect. You can learn by finding correct examples. I learned by wrong examples!

    Another example I can't shake, "Winston tastes good, like a cigaret should," taught me that "like" is wrong; should be "as." Or the way cartoon Tom the Cat pronounces "despicable" is wrong, so I have remembered how to say it correctly.
    This is a good (for me good ) rule of thumb to follow:

    'as' is with comparison with verbs ( Winston tastes good as a cigarette should taste)
    'like' is with comparison with nouns
    ...
    des-pi-kuh-buhl or di-spik-uh-buhl

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    #6

    Re: Were or was?

    I like your as/like. It is easy to "like a noun" [pretending for a minute that "like" is a verb here, meaning to get pleasure from] - you can't "as a noun"!

    The despicable problem is the emphasis on - as Tom would have it - the second syllable, which allows him to sputter very noisily. The proper emphasis is on the first syllable, which almost completely swallows the sputtering "sp" - and has absolutely no comedic effect.

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