Results 1 to 3 of 3
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong

    • Join Date: Aug 2007
    • Posts: 2

    Use of the Subjunctive

    'If I was you..............' Is this now an acceptable usage of the subjunctive or should it still be only the, 'If I were you.............' for examination purposes?

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: Use of the Subjunctive

    Welcome, Medway Boy.

    Here are a few sources for you.

    Were Subjunctive
    In hypothetical sentences, were is usually used instead of was:
    If I were you, I'd learn how to drive.
    I wish it were Friday.
    It is important to note that was can also be used (although still considered incorrect by some grammarians), and is, in fact, more common in informal English.


    The was form is possible in informal, familar conversation.



    From the BBC - British Council, a quiz called How we say things:

    4. Which of these is not a way to give advice?
    a. If I was you, I’d do it again.
    b. You should do it again.
    c. If you do it again, you’ll be in big trouble. This is a threat.
    [Notice that example a. has If I was, not If I were. In other words, spoken English can differ from written English.]

    About whether you should opt for was or were on an exam:

    When the situation described by the if clause is not presupposed to be false, however, that clause must contain an indicative verb.
    If Hamlet was really written by Marlowe, as many have argued, then we have underestimated Marlowe’s genius.

    If Kevin was out all day, then it makes sense that he couldn’t answer the phone.
    Remember, just because the modal verb would appears in the main clause, this doesn’t mean that the verb in the if clause must be in the subjunctive if the content of that clause is not presupposed to be false:

    If I was (not were) to accept their offer—which I’m still considering—I would have to start the new job on May 2.

    He would always call her from the office if he was (not were) going to be late for dinner.

    Does that help?

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 59,245

    Re: Use of the Subjunctive

    I'd say that if an exam is testing the structure, then I would use 'were'. However, many exams don't test the structure, but it's probably better to play safe and use the subjunctive.

Similar Threads

  1. Subjunctive
    By big in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 30-Jun-2007, 10:16
  2. Subjunctive...
    By Jelena in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 05-May-2007, 16:14
  3. Is this "might" a subjunctive?
    By nyugaton in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 13-Sep-2006, 11:53
  4. subjunctive mood
    By Rona in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 04-Aug-2006, 13:28
  5. Subjunctive + Prepositions
    By hela in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 19-May-2004, 03:20


Posting Permissions

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