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    #1

    Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    Hi,

    "If I was supergirl, I would have slapped your hands long time ago for behaving badly." - is this right or wrong grammatically?

    How would you reword the above sentence in quotes? and what's wrong with it?
    SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD?

    kindest - ana
    Last edited by anasiants; 10-Nov-2005 at 23:02.

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    #2

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    If you want to use the subjunctive, change 'was' to 'were'. Some presriptivists would argue that it's wrong because we should use the subjunctive in such sentences, but descriptively, it's what a large proportion of native speakers use.


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    #3

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    If you want to use the subjunctive, change 'was' to 'were'. Some presriptivists would argue that it's wrong because we should use the subjunctive in such sentences, but descriptively, it's what a large proportion of native speakers use.
    Hello Mr., Mrs. or Miss tdol,

    Thank you very much for saving my life.
    Please take care of yourself.

    Kindest regards, Ana

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    #4

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    Quote Originally Posted by anasiants
    Hi,

    "If I was supergirl, I would have slapped your hands long time ago for behaving badly." - is this right or wrong grammatically?

    How would you reword the above sentence in quotes? and what's wrong with it?
    SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD?

    kindest - ana
    As a supplement:

    1. The sentence needs rewording slightly, even with "was":

    "If I was Supergirl, I would have slapped your hands a long time ago for behaving (so) badly."

    2. Not every case of "was" in an IF-clause can be changed to "were" only those that relate to an "unreal" hypothesis. For instance:

    You are in a supermarket with a friend. You see a man buying cigarettes and leaving the supermarket. You say to your friend:

    "That looks like the man the police want to interview, in connection with the missing subjunctive."

    Your friend says:

    "Yes, I remember now. I saw his picture on the 10 o'clock news. What shall we do?"

    And you say:

    "Well, if that was the man on the 10 o'clock news, we'd better inform the police."
    In this case, the conditional sentence doesn't relate to an unreal hypothesis: you are assuming he was the man. So you can't change "was" to "were".

    MrP


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    #5

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    What about the "already too late structure?" - so to me it's third conditional.

    I'd say: If I had been supergirl, I would have slappend your hands...

    But I'm not a native, I've only learned it that way.

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    #6

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    Well, my honest advice would be not to trouble yourself over "was/were." You have the choice of using either one.

    The use of the subjunctive "If I/he/she/it were" has been losing ground for some time in English with "was" now accepted and routinely used without a murmur (except from the occasional pedant).


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    #7

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    If I were Supergirl refers to a present hypothetical state, If I had been Supergirl refers to a past experience. " If I had been Supergirl at that very moment, I would have..."

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    #8

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    1. "If I were Supergirl, I would have slapped your hands long ago."

    Yes; it's a "mixed conditional" (type 2+3); but "if I were Supergirl" now, we can be pretty certain that I would have been Supergirl then as well.

    To amend the well-known bon mot:

    2. "If I were your wife, I'd have given you poison long ago." "If I were your husband, I would have drunk it."

    Though I'm not sure why the speaker needs to be Supergirl, to slap his hands.

    MrP


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    #9

    Re: Subjunctive mood/Descriptive & prescriptive grammar.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic
    1. "If I were Supergirl, I would have slapped your hands long ago."

    Yes; it's a "mixed conditional" (type 2+3); but "if I were Supergirl" now, we can be pretty certain that I would have been Supergirl then as well.

    To amend the well-known bon mot:

    2. "If I were your wife, I'd have given you poison long ago." "If I were your husband, I would have drunk it."

    Though I'm not sure why the speaker needs to be Supergirl, to slap his hands.

    MrP
    Hello,
    Sorry for the late reply.
    I was just being silly that's why i chose supergirl.
    Wow - i thank all of you. Thanks for all the replies! now, i have to add all of these on my notes :)

    I like this part, i think it was really funny :)

    "If I were your wife, I'd have given you poison long ago." "If I were your husband, I would have drunk it."

    Kindest - ana
    Please take care and don't get sick and tired of me. :)
    Last edited by anasiants; 14-Nov-2005 at 13:10.

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