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  1. kfredson's Avatar

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    #1

    If I was...

    "If I was home yesterday when you called, then I must not have heard the knock on the door."
    This is an appropriate use of "If I was..." But is it incorrect to use it in the following way:
    "If I was worried about what people thought about me I'd never get anything done."
    Is it always mandatory in such situations to say "If I were..."?
    If so, are there other appropriate uses of "If I was..."?

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    #2

    Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    "If I was home yesterday when you called, then I must not have heard the knock on the door."
    This is an appropriate use of "If I was..." But is it incorrect to use it in the following way:
    "If I was worried about what people thought about me I'd never get anything done."
    Is it always mandatory in such situations to say "If I were..."?
    If so, are there other appropriate uses of "If I was..."?
    This is also something tough for me. I think it is related to the verb "modus", that is, in the indicative it reads "I was" while in the subjunctive it reads "I were". I am still trying to understand why the first example you gave is correct, I am inclined to agree it is correct.

    Maybe the answer is close to the following idea: In the first example, one can substitute "if" by "supposing", or "assuming that": Supposing I was home yesterday ...
    In situations like: "If I were you I would do such and such" I think we cannot say "Supposing I was you I would do such and such".

    Well I know I didnt answer the question, I don't know the answer. This is an important subject and I hope someone else can shed some light on it

    PS Not a native speaker.

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    #3

    Exclamation Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Maybe the answer is close to the following idea: In the first example, one can substitute "if" by "supposing", or "assuming that": Supposing I was home yesterday ...
    In situations like: "If I were you I would do such and such" I think we cannot say "Supposing I was you I would do such and such".

    Well I know I didnt answer the question, I don't know the answer. This is an important subject and I hope someone else can shed some light on it

    PS Not a native speaker.
    “If I were” is a past subjunctive. According to the traditional rule, the subjunctive should be used to describe an occurrence that is presupposed to be contrary to fact, as in: if I were ten years younger or if I were you. If I were the President, I should(or would) declare war against terrorism.
    If I were you, holding the world right in my hands,
    the first thing I would do is thank the stars for all that I have.
    (note the use of modal verb would or less frequently should in the main clause)
    When the situation described by the if clause is not presupposed to be false, then the clause must contain an indicative verb, and the choice of verb in the main clause will depend on the intended meaning: as the 1st sentence of OP or the following
    If I was out all day, then it makes sense that I couldn't answer any phone call.
    Last edited by sarat_106; 14-Dec-2009 at 04:05.

  2. kfredson's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    “If I were” is a past subjunctive. According to the traditional rule, the subjunctive should be used to describe an occurrence that is presupposed to be contrary to fact, as in: if I were ten years younger or if I were you. If I were the President, I should(or would) declare war against terrorism.
    If I were you, holding the world right in my hands,
    the first thing I would do is thank the stars for all that I have.
    (note the use of modal verb would or less frequently should in the main clause)
    When the situation described by the if clause is not presupposed to be false, then the clause must contain an indicative verb, and the choice of verb in the main clause will depend on the intended meaning: as the 1st sentence of OP or the following
    If I was out all day, then it makes sense that I couldn't answer any phone call.
    Thank you. That is most useful. Do I understand therefore that the sentence I gave is grammatically incorrect?
    "If I was worried about what people thought about me I'd never get anything done."
    I would say so since, as you put it, it is "presupposed to be contrary to fact."

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    #5

    Exclamation Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by kfredson View Post
    Thank you. That is most useful. Do I understand therefore that the sentence I gave is grammatically incorrect?
    "If I was worried about what people thought about me I'd never get anything done."
    I would say so since, as you put it, it is "presupposed to be contrary to fact."
    A subjunctive mood is used for discussing hypothetical or unreal things those are contrary to facts. The if clause in your sentence “If I was “ is in the indicative mood which expresses that something was actually not the case. So it should be dealt like a normal conditional sentence. Here the condition is in the past, so the result can be expressed as; would have + past participle of verb (past conditional)

    “If I was worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."
    Last edited by sarat_106; 03-Jan-2010 at 13:19.


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    #6

    Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by sarat_106 View Post
    A subjunctive mood is used for discussing hypothetical or unreal things those are contrary to facts. The if clause in your sentence “If I was “ is in the indicative mood which expresses that something was actually not the case. So it should be dealt like a normal conditional sentence. Here the condition is in the past, so the result should be expressed as; would have + past participle of verb (past conditional)

    “If I was worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."
    Hi!

    I have some doubts about conditionality in your example:

    “If I was worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    If the condition is in the past, and unfullfied because the state of being worried didn't happen then there should be 'had been' rather than 'was':

    "If I had been worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    And if the condition is unreal in present, I would say this way:

    If I were to worry about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."


  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by omasta View Post
    Hi!

    I have some doubts about conditionality in your example:

    “If I was worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    If the condition is in the past, and unfullfied because the state of being worried didn't happen then there should be 'had been' rather than 'was':

    "If I had been worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    And if the condition is unreal in present, I would say this way:

    If I were to worry about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."
    If I were to worry about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."
    This sentence doesn't work, "If I were to worry..." is present conditional and should be followed by "...I would never get anything done".

  4. julia333's Avatar

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    #8

    Re: If I was...

    So what is the final correction ?


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    #9

    Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    If I were to worry about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."
    This sentence doesn't work, "If I were to worry..." is present conditional and should be followed by "...I would never get anything done".
    Also, the subjunctive mood should only be used in unreal or unlikely situations. It's quite possible that one's concious about one's appearence, ergo it's necessary that one use:

    "If I was to worry about what people though about me, I would never get anything".
    Or
    "If I had worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything".

    Note: You may also be wondering why I said: "it's necessary that one use". This is another use of the present subjunctive, that is employed in mandative statements. If you were to look at the article entitled: "English Verbs" on Wikipedia, I have written a little on the subjunctive tenses which may be of use to you.

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    #10

    Exclamation Re: If I was...

    Quote Originally Posted by omasta View Post
    Hi!

    I have some doubts about conditionality in your example:

    “If I was worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    If the condition is in the past, and unfullfied because the state of being worried didn't happen then there should be 'had been' rather than 'was':
    "If I had been worried about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    And if the condition is unreal in present, I would say this way:

    If I were to worry about what people thought about me, I would have never got anything done."

    I have said that “If I was” is past indicative and explained its treatment in my previous post. I repeat it again: When the situation described by the if clause is not unreal or hypothetical, however, that clause must contain an indicative verb, the choice of verb in the main clause will depend on the intended meaning; example:
    If Hamlet was really written by Marlowe, as many have argued, then we have underestimated Marlowe's genius

    So please treat the word "should" in my previous post as 'can', since the verb in the main clause can also be: might have/could have. Besides, Ymnisky has a point; "It looks as though the examples where one can use the indicative with "if" clauses seem to attract the word "then", while in the traditional conditionals one does not use "then." I think 'then' acts in a positive way which can be used here.
    If I was worried about what people thought about me, then I would have/could have/might have never got anything done."
    Last edited by sarat_106; 03-Jan-2010 at 14:35.

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