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    #1

    As if he were/is

    Hi,

    In a metaphor, you would say something is something else. E.g. "John is a pig" as in John is like a pig (simile). You wouldn't say "John were a pig".

    He always follows her around as if he were her pet. ("Pet" here is literal that's why "were" is used; he isn't a pet- unreal)

    He always follows her around as if he is her pet. ("Pet" here is a figure of speech that's why "is" is used; he is a figurative pet)

    In your opinion, can both be used? Thanks

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    #2

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Hi,

    In a metaphor, you would say something is something else. E.g. "John is a pig" as in John is like a pig (simile). You wouldn't say "John were a pig".
    Well, were doesn't work because it's the wrong form:


    Simple Tense
    John is a pig. <Present>
    John was a pig. <Past>


    To use were, you'll need if, a hypothetical:

    Subjunctive
    If John were a pig, ... .
    ...., as if John were her pet.


    He always follows her around as if he were her pet, (but he isn't a pet).

    Change the verb to was and the meaning changes:

    He always follows her around as if he(truly) was her pet.


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    #3

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Hi,

    In a metaphor, you would say something is something else. E.g. "John is a pig" as in John is like a pig (simile). You wouldn't say "John were a pig". Up to here, it is just the introduction. My question is below.

    He always follows her around as if he were her pet. ("Pet" here is literal that's why "were" is used; he isn't a pet- unreal)

    He always follows her around as if he is her pet. ("Pet" here is a figure of speech that's why "is" is used; he is a figurative pet)

    In your opinion, can both be used? Thanks
    Thanks for the reply, but your answer is not really addressing my question.

    Moreover, your last example is not a subjunctive nor an indicative in the correct form (it's present tense):

    He always follows her around as if he(truly) was her pet.
    Last edited by lycen; 06-Dec-2009 at 08:11.

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    #4

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Thanks for the reply, but your answer is not really addressing my question
    Yes, both are used. Whether they can be used is a matter of opinion as "can' could mean acceptable, and that's a whole 'nother discussion.

    In my opinion, present tense expresses a fact, and the reason speakers opt for 'as if ... is ...' instead of 'as if ... were ... .'

    Hope that addresses your question.

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    #5

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Thanks for the reply, but your answer is not really addressing my question.

    Moreover, your last example is not a subjunctive nor an indicative in the correct form (it's present tense):

    He always follows her around as if he(truly) was her pet.

    He always follows her around as if he(truly) was her pet. This means "...as if he used to be her pet". "Were" is correct it is a subjunctive present tense use of the verb "to be".


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    #6

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    Hi,

    In a metaphor, you would say something is something else. E.g. "John is a pig" as in John is like a pig (simile). You wouldn't say "John were a pig".

    He always follows her around as if he were her pet. ("Pet" here is literal that's why "were" is used; he isn't a pet- unreal)

    He always follows her around as if he is her pet. ("Pet" here is a figure of speech that's why "is" is used; he is a figurative pet)

    In your opinion, can both be used? Thanks
    Hi Lycen,

    My nonsense goes like this:

    'as if' and 'as though' are both used to say what a situation looks like. They can refer to something we think may be true:

    It looks as if she is his mother. (perhaps she is)

    They can also be used to talk about things which we know are not true:

    I feel as if I am dying. (I am not dying at all; it is just exhaustion from last night)

    tenses

    When we talk about things we know are not true, we use the past tense with present meaning after 'as if/though'. This emphasises the meaning of unreality. You need to resort to emphasis when the surrounding context otherwise allows room for doubt on the part of the hearer.

    He looks as if he is rich. (perhaps she is rich now)
    He talks as if he was rich. -- informal, unreal present comparison; (in)formal, (un)real comparison for the past (perhaps he was rich in the past or we know he was not rich in the past)
    He talks as if he were rich. -- formal, unreal comparison for the present

    ...........

    He always follows her around as if he were her pet. (emphasises the unreality: he is not a pig; only behaves as if he were) There is no need to emphasise unreality with the past subjunctive, because the surrounding context (he is compared to her pet) does not allow room for doubt: a human can't be non-human (a pet).

    He always follows her around as if he was her pet. = informal equivalent of the sentence above

    He always follows her around as if he is her pet. -- 'he' means human; no difference between present and past forms meaning-wise.

    She looks as if he is his mother (perhaps)
    She looks as if he was/were his mother. (certainly not his mother; theoretically it is possible that he was his mother but no longer, but it is not in keeping with reality)

    Often the surrounding words influence the choice of tenses and the possible meaning.


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    #7

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    He always follows her around as if he(truly) was her pet. This means "...as if he used to be her pet". "Were" is correct it is a subjunctive present tense use of the verb "to be".
    But "always follows" tells us it is still ongoing, how can we use "was"?

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    #8

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by lycen View Post
    But "always follows" tells us it is still ongoing, how can we use "was"?
    "Was" is the past tense of "to be".


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    #9

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by Kondorosi View Post
    Hi Lycen,

    My nonsense goes like this:

    'as if' and 'as though' are both used to say what a situation looks like. They can refer to something we think may be true:

    It looks as if she is his mother. (perhaps she is)

    They can also be used to talk about things which we know are not true:

    I feel as if I am dying. (I am not dying at all; it is just exhaustion from last night)

    tenses

    When we talk about things we know are not true, we use the past tense with present meaning after 'as if/though'. This emphasises the meaning of unreality. You need to resort to emphasis when the surrounding context otherwise allows room for doubt on the part of the hearer.

    He looks as if he is rich. (perhaps she is rich now)
    He talks as if he was rich. -- informal, unreal present comparison; (in)formal, (un)real comparison for the past (perhaps he was rich in the past or we know he was not rich in the past)
    He talks as if he were rich. -- formal, unreal comparison for the present

    ...........

    He always follows her around as if he were her pet. (emphasises the unreality: he is not a pig; only behaves as if he were) There is no need to emphasise unreality with the past subjunctive, because the surrounding context (he is compared to her pet) does not allow room for doubt: a human can't be non-human (a pet).

    He always follows her around as if he was her pet. = informal equivalent of the sentence above

    He always follows her around as if he is her pet. -- 'he' means human; no difference between present and past forms meaning-wise.

    She looks as if he is his mother (perhaps)
    She looks as if he was/were his mother. (certainly not his mother; theoretically it is possible that he was his mother but no longer, but it is not in keeping with reality)

    Often the surrounding words influence the choice of tenses and the possible meaning.
    Does this apply to "like" too other than "as if/though"?

    Do you believe in that the usage of subjunctive could be also due to this?:

    He eats and sleeps as if he were a (literal) pig.
    He eats and sleeps as if he is a (figurative) pig.
    Last edited by lycen; 07-Dec-2009 at 01:20.


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    #10

    Re: As if he were/is

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "Was" is the past tense of "to be".
    "Always follows" means presently he is still behaving like a pet. How come a past tense can be used?

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