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"parents wish their daughter were"
"parents wish their daughter was"
what is correct?
Ryan:'parents wish their daughter was' - this is correct.
The word 'was' refers to 'one daughter'.
Or you can change it to - 'parents wish their daughters were'.
The form "were" is the rest of the extinct subjunctive modus of the verb "to be".
It is used in sentences that express a wish that cannot be fulfilled e.g. the one you mentioned above.
Only "to be" kept these subjunctive forms in the 1st and 3rd person singular:
I were, he were
all the other verbs stick to their past tense forms.
Also "were" in these cases can be replaced by their regular past tense form "was".
(and regardless of whether you are referring to one or more than one daughters, "were" is appropriate)
Ryan:I stand corrected - the subjuctive is needed. Please ignore my earlier mail. We are talking about an unfulfilled wish here.
Anonymous:I am a year 5 teacher and really struggling with was and were for the following. Please can you help?If I were the head master/mistressIf I was the head master/mistress)...I would teach 'was' as 'I' is singular but does the unfulfilled wish come in to it? Are both correct?Many, many thanks for any help you can offer
Look up the subjunctive - it's a situation contrary to reality. You would use "If I were" in that situation.
Anonymous:She looked as if she were to leave.
Anonymous:She wished that she were ten.
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