Page 2 of 2 First 1 2
Results 11 to 19 of 19
  1. VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 15,281
    #11

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Unless I were trying to suggest that Frank wasn't particularly well educated, it wouldn't occur to me to use was.
    Before anybody gets upset that I appear to be implying that only not very well educated people use was, I was talking about a translation in the early 1950s of something written in the 1940s.

  2. Senior Member
    Other
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 1,379
    #12

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    My sense is that the final decline of the subjunctive in British English happened in the second half of the twentieth century.

    The Diary of Anne Frank was translated in 1952 by Barbara Doubleday (1919-2017). She was born in Kent, educated in Switzerland, and married to a Dutchman. I think it's fair to assume her English was the educated international (British) English of those days, and that she used the subjunctive because she intended to do so.

    (cross-post with above)
    Retired proofreader. ESL tutor. Not a teacher. Nor a typist, evidently.

  3. teechar's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Iraq

    • Join Date: Feb 2015
    • Posts: 9,176
    #13

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Exactly! And I am saying that she intended to do so to distance the possibility from reality even more. To me, "if something were" is less likely/real/possible than "if something was". The subjunctive may be down and out, but it's not quite dead yet. And its nuances are still palpable.

  4. VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 15,281
    #14

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    To me, "if something were" is less likely/real/possible than "if something was".
    It isn't to me, but we can put that down to different opinions.

    However, I have not heard this suggestion before, and I don't recall seeing it in any of the (many) grammars I have read.

  5. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 8,210
    #15

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    Exactly! And I am saying that she intended to do so to distance the possibility from reality even more. To me, "if something were" is less likely/real/possible than "if something was". The subjunctive may be down and out, but it's not quite dead yet. And its nuances are still palpable.
    I've never heard of or considered this view before, either, but I do find it interesting and need to think about it more.

    Just to clarify that I'm getting you right—are you saying that was creates a certain distance and that were creates a further distance? Only in this case, or more generally?

  6. VIP Member
    Retired English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • Europe
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
    • Posts: 15,281
    #16

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    To me, "if something were" is less likely/real/possible than "if something was".
    It has just occurred to me that this nuance of less likely/real/possible would work only in the first and third persons singular. That seems a little strange.

  7. teechar's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Iraq

    • Join Date: Feb 2015
    • Posts: 9,176
    #17

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Just to clarify that I'm getting you right—are you saying that was creates a certain distance and that were creates a further distance?
    Yes, that's what I meant.

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    Only in this case, or more generally?
    I'm not sure what other uses you may be considering, but certainly the above is common enough.

  8. teechar's Avatar
    Moderator
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Iraq
      • Current Location:
      • Iraq

    • Join Date: Feb 2015
    • Posts: 9,176
    #18

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    It has just occurred to me that this nuance of less likely/real/possible would work only in the first and third persons singular. That seems a little strange.
    Yes, and yes.

  9. jutfrank's Avatar
    VIP Member
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Mar 2014
    • Posts: 8,210
    #19

    Re: If the truth were to prove as bad as that,

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    I'm not sure what other uses you may be considering
    I was thinking of if I was you versus if I were you.

Page 2 of 2 First 1 2

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •