Forums · General English Grammar & Vocabulary, Listening & Speaking · General English Grammar Questions
Guest:This one is driving me nuts.
I have studied the rules of the past subjunctive, so I (Think I) know about counterfactual conditions and the proper use of was/were.
I also know that many native english speakers ignore the rules of the subjunctive altogether. Yet I am puzzled because sometimes, the same author, even in the same passage applies both forms. That leads me to believe that they are perceived differently.
If it wasn't for me, you'd be in trouble now
If it weren't for me, you'd be in trouble now
I think the second one is correct, eventhough many native speakers might use the first one.
Now, look at the following ones. All taken from the same passage.
Please do not comment on the context. I found it on google searching for the phrases. This is not propaganda in any way, so please stick to the grammar.
If it weren't for Muslims, horses would have never been brought to the European world
Things like curry, garlic, onions, peppercorn, and other spices would not be enjoyed if it wasn't for the impact of the Muslim world
If it weren't for the Muslims then many nations would not have been formed, many foods would not be enjoyed, many types of transportation would not be used, and many ideas would not have been shared
Besides these examples, I have also noticed that "if it wasn't" is more common in counterfactual past phrases rather than in counterfactual present.
if it wasn't for that setback, our job would have been much easier than it was
I dont know if "If it weren't" would be correct here. I would say "If it hadn't been", or, even better, "had it not been", but definately not "if it wasn't". Yet the latter seems to be by far the most common form.
So please enlighten me, if you can. Which is the correct form and why? Assuming I want to apply the subjunctive rules consistently.
I think it is something to do with plural and singular
Guest:Does that mean nobody knows? Damn. If even the regulars of an english language forum are bored to read my question guess there's nobody that can help me!
It was long because I wanted to make it as clear as possible
If they say: “ If it wasn’t for Muslims... “, They mean that Muslims are actually responsible for the events described.
Looks like I could use some explanation on the subject too.
Visit this site. It mentions about this thing. http://grammar.englishclub.com/verbs-subjunctive.htm
It would appear that 'wasn't is used informally, and for formal writing, if...weren't or if...were is to be used.
Hope this clears up your doubts.
Guest:I think you are correct on all counts.
The subjunctive is the "correct" form in the examples you have given, but as you have noted, it is widely disregarded in modern English, even to the point of being almost obsolete.
Personally, I like the subjunctive, particularly in creative writing, because it creates an almost wistful mood, a sense of longing...
In a commercial context, however, this would obviously be inappropriate, and might even be regarded as pretentious. So, the subjunctive is largely redundant in today's business English.
"Was" has been used for centuries as a replacement for 'were' and in many situations the meanings are identical, context lets us know. Neither is more correct, though one certainly could be considered more appropriate to a given language situation.
Were is used more in formal situations, was more in casual situations.
If I were you = If I was you
No one demands a subjunctive form to say,
"If I lived in Paris, ..."
'If' + [a past tense verb] indicates to native speakers [ENLs] that the situation being describes is counterfactual or doubtful, again context tells us which.
Anonymous:they was playin' a game
BEV- i think its used incorrectly in this statement
Anonymous:It IS used incorrectly in this statement, and it doesn't even have anything to do with the subjunctive here...
It should be, "they were playing a game", because the pronoun is plural.
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