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    #1

    if...were/was

    Hi

    Is it always better to use "were" after "if", or is "was" also acceptable?

  1. #2

    Cool Re: if...were/was

    Hi, it does depend on what you are putting between if and was/were:

    If I were to leave - good

    If it were to rain - good

    If I was to leave - good

    If it was to rain - good

    If you were to leave BUT not if you was to leave

    If they were to leave BUT again not if they was to leave

    It seems were and was are only interchangeable with 'I' and 'it'

    Someone may have differing views; we shall see.

    SB

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    #3

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by Shakespeare's brother View Post
    Hi, it does depend on what you are putting between if and was/were:

    If I were to leave - good

    If it were to rain - good

    If I was to leave - good

    If it was to rain - good

    If you were to leave BUT not if you was to leave

    If they were to leave BUT again not if they was to leave

    It seems were and was are only interchangeable with 'I' and 'it'

    Someone may have differing views; we shall see.

    SB
    Hi

    but isn't it better to say: If I were to leave/to go/to say...
    rather than: If I was to leave/to go/to say.....

    Is not the first one a subjunctive and we use it to state that something is less probable, contrary to facts?

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    #4

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by GUEST2008 View Post
    Hi

    but isn't it better to say: If I were to leave/to go/to say...
    rather than: If I was to leave/to go/to say.....

    Is not the first one a subjunctive and we use it to state that something is less probable, contrary to facts?
    Dear GUEST2008.
    See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/subjunctive
    Regards,
    rj1948.


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    #5

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by GUEST2008 View Post
    Hi

    Is it always better to use "were" after "if", or is "was" also acceptable?
    No, it isn't always better to use 'were', Guest. That is but one option.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,930,000 English pages for "If I was".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,140,000 English pages for "If I were".

    As you can see from this exact phrase Google search, both are in common use. The choices that ENLs make as to which to use has NOTHING whatsoever to do with education level.

    Just as it is for any language, for different social situations, we use different collocations. 'were' tends to be used in more formal situations.

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    #6

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    No, it isn't always better to use 'were', Guest. That is but one option.

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,930,000 English pages for "If I was".

    Results 1 - 10 of about 1,140,000 English pages for "If I were".

    As you can see from this exact phrase Google search, both are in common use. The choices that ENLs make as to which to use has NOTHING whatsoever to do with education level.

    Just as it is for any language, for different social situations, we use different collocations. 'were' tends to be used in more formal situations.
    The number of results in Google search cannot be relied upon because the repetition of posts and many are embedded.

    If I were to leave is a subjunctive clause, which usually expresses imaginary things and wishes.

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    #7

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    'were' tends to be used in more formal situations.
    Not only, I guess. There is also a slightly different meaning between "were" (subjunctive) and "was" (indicative). Do you agree?


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    #8

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by GUEST2008 View Post
    Not only, I guess. There is also a slightly different meaning between "were" (subjunctive) and "was" (indicative). Do you agree?
    I may be mistaken, Guest, but I think that you might have been exposed to the only "proof" ever offered by prescriptivists when they suggest that you shouldn't/mustn't use 'was' to describe counterfactual situations. That proof is/was false.

    When 'was' is used in a subjunctive fashion, it is identical in meaning to 'were' used in the same fashion.

    If I was/were in London now, ... = I'm not in London now.

    If he was/were a woman, ...

    If you could direct us to a source that describes this "different meaning", perhaps we can get this misunderstanding cleared up.


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    #9

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by venkatasu View Post
    The number of results in Google search cannot be relied upon because the repetition of posts and many are embedded.

    If I were to leave is a subjunctive clause, which usually expresses imaginary things and wishes.
    That it is and that it does, Venkatasu. But the indicative 'was' can do exactly the same thing and it does, with great regularity.

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    #10

    Re: if...were/was

    Quote Originally Posted by riverkid View Post
    If you could direct us to a source that describes this "different meaning", perhaps we can get this misunderstanding cleared up.
    Hi

    By different meaning I meant what you have already mentioned in your post, i.e., "were" refers to something less probable like "If I were a fish" Can I also say "If I was a fish"? Will they mean the same? This is what I read in the grammar books, i.e., the meaning between "were" and "was" is slightly different.

    You can also have a look at this thread started by me, there is a post by David L.:

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...here-were.html


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