On the front page of today's Wall Street Journal there is an article titled, [url="http://snipurl.com/91ug"]Uneasy Compromise: To Keep Teens Safe, Some Parents Allow Drinking at Home[/url]. Although WSJ Online is a subscription service, the link above will allow you to see the article until about the 20 September 2004, when it will no longer work.

In the article, there is a paragraph as follows:

Mrs. Anderson felt pressure to resign as treasurer of an organization that arranged scholarships for student athletes. She says other group members told her that the local police would no longer make donations to the group if she was involved. "I had worked hard to make that organization what it was," says Mrs. Anderson. "In the end they valued the $500 from the police more than they valued me." A police spokesman says the department never threatened to pull its donation.

I underlined "was". As I read the sentence I thought "was" should be "were". Am I correct?

Strictly speaking, was is always wrong in the context of an if clause when the other clause contains would, i.e., in the pattern

if ... was ..., ... would ...
... would ..., if ... was ...

So you are correct.

Even the best journalists disregard the "rule", but strictly speaking, that's the rule.

Exception: when would means used to, as in:

She would lie out in the shade if it was too hot indoors.

Not the same meaning as: She would lie out in the shade if it were too hot indoors.

It's strange how the choice of was or were in one clause determines how the verb "lie" in the other clause is interpreted: habitual vs. one-time hypothetical.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?

I understood your answer completely.

Thank you CalifJim!


ten tons of sand were removed or ten tons of sand was removed

Ten tons of sand were removed from the pond.

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