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Hi,

I don't know if I have to use the word 'was' or 'were'. To me, the use of 'were' makes the sentence unreal or hypothetical.

Hypothetical situation:I have this trustful man who is highly qualified to speak on the topics he talks about and who does go around and gives speeches. He doesn't ask to be paid but accepts money for his expenses with prior arrangements between him and the entity that invited him.

Can I say this about him?

Hi, I think you should be grateful he is here giving a speech. If he was (were??) after money, he wouldn't be here. He would be spending his time doing something else.

To me, If he was after money, he wouldn't be here is like a reverse form? of a first conditional and the hypothetical or unreal (I don't know which one. Maybe both?) is a typical type 2 conditional.
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If he was were after money, he wouldn't be here. He would be ... (Type 2 conditional -- normal, usual pattern.)
I'm not sure what you mean by 'reverse form'. 'backshift'?
The Type 1 conditional is If he is after money, he [won't / will not] be here.

The backshift of the Type 1 conditional is indeed If he was after money, he [wouldn't / would not] be here. Many people use this instead of the Type 2 conditional. When they do, they intend it to have the same meaning as the Type 2 conditional.
CJ
google "subjunctive mood". i think it will help.
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CalifJimThe backshift of the Type 1 conditional is indeed If he was after money, he [wouldn't / would not] be here. Many people use this instead of the Type 2 conditional. When they do, they intend it to have the same meaning as the Type 2 conditional.
But isn't this just one of the many idiosyncrasies of Standard English (spoken by less than 12% of native speakers worldwide). Is there any other English dialect that this exists in?
HuevosBut isn't this just one of the many idiosyncrasies of Standard English (spoken by less than 12% of native speakers worldwide). Is there any other English dialect that this exists in?
Sorry. I don't quite catch your point.
Are you asking whether the substitution of was for were is an idiosyncrasy? I don't think I'm comfortable with calling it an idiosyncrasy. I think 'variant' is a better word. Maybe that's because my own English and that of my friends freely vacilates between the was and the wereforms in that construction. Emotion: smile

I'm not sure what Standard English is supposed to be, or how the statistics are gathered that include that 12% estimate, so I can't speak to that. In any case, I don't think it is very often that people speak of Standard English as a dialect, and I don't know enough about the distribution of dialects or varieties of English worldwide to answer your final question. Hopefully someone who knows more about it will respond. Emotion: sad
CJ
CalifJimI don't think it is very often that people speak of Standard English as a dialect
If it's not a dialect then what is it?
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HuevosIf it's not a dialect then what is it?
Beats me. An academic abstraction, I would say. Some sort of idealized form. Isn't that what most standards are? ??? I think it's possible to have a standard even if no one observes the standard. To me, a dialect would be something that arises naturally out of the way people in a certain area speak. Nothing abstract or academic about it.
I don't know. What do you think? Does that seem reasonable?

CJ
Damn! Why did I start this? Maybe we should split it from the original thread.
CalifJimIsn't that what most standards are? ??? I think it's possible to have a standard even if no one observes the standard.
Yes, but it is not a standard at all. Standard English is its name but there is no standard nor standards body of English as there are for other languages. Also if it "were" really a standard it would follow prescription which, with its many idiosyncracies, it does not. As for its status as a dialect it started life as the tongue of the upper classes of the South-East of England, the language in which all literature of the time was written, and continued its spread worldwide perpetuated by those who wished to emulated that group.