What is the correct usage for the sentance: "Wouldn't it be nice if life was/were easy?"
In spoken casual conversation it sounds more natural to use "was" but is the preferred or correct/formal written version "were"
Thank you for your help!
Has there been a misunderstanding here?
ageha_chan asked which was better: "... if life were easy" or "...if life was easy".
I indicated I'd use were in both spoken and written form in this case.
What I took issue with was ageha_chan's statement that NOT using the subjunctive were sounds more natural in spoken English. I don't agree with that.
I do not think saying "...if life was easy" automatically sounds more natural.
Does that clear things up?
I thought that might have been the case. But, if my post was easy for you to misinterpret, then maybe for others, too.
I enjoy reading your knowledgeable and practical posts.
Please don't worry about my addressing these issues with you. I don't mean to suggest any personal offence whatsoever and if you felt some then I apologise.
But as I said, I do express myself frankly.
I'd like you to tell me, ... us, if you would; what makes the subjunctive the 'correct' form. Why do you put correct in single quotations?
I offset the word because I recognise that 'correct' is not an absolute truth in language - it is a matter of custom and practice.
OK. Why defend the subjunctive? I took the liberty of referring to my copy of Fowler's Modern English Usage (2nd Ed) - the 1965 edition, which most consider a good compromise between the strict and libertarian interpretation of grammar:
"We may divide the uses of the subjunctive into four classes, which we call Alives, Revivals, Survivals, and Arrivals, and no concealment need be made of the purpose in hand, which is to discourage the last two classes."
Under Alives, "i.e. uses that are still our natural form of speech. Those uses are alive which it occurs to no one to suspect of pedantry or artificiality, and which come as natural in speech as other ways of saying the thing, or more so."
Without copying out the entire passage, one of the above is:
'If he were here now (and all if...were clauses expressing a hypothesis that is not a fact).'
In other words, it is correct MODERN English grammar to insist upon the use of the subjunctive in the case raised by the original poster. I (and clearly Fowler) have no objection to deprecating extinct uses of the subjunctive, but I believe it is not unreasonable to uphold the rules that are considered current within our own time-frame.