+0
How do I know when to use the word was, versus the word were?
1 2
Comments  
Both are used. I wish I were is more grammatical but I wish I was is very common in informal English.

CB
AnonymousHow do I know when to use the word was, versus the word were?

Think of "I wish I were" as a fixed idiom and use it all the time. Don't bother with "I wish I was" even though you'll hear other people say it from time to time.

CJ
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
AnonymousIt's awesome when folks present guesses as fact! How American!
It's awesome when folks get their information from cartoons! How Canadian!

CJ
May I most respectfully and gently make two points:

1. Using cartoons to learn English is fine -- if the material is accurate. (I wish that there were a cartoon explaining all

the uses of the adverb "really"!)
2. I would like to suggest that the cartoon is "wrong" to say "Frank's not here yet, but if he was ...." I believe that the

"correct" word is "were."

3. I feel that "was" would be correct only in:

I do not know whether Frank was at the party yesterday (it was crowded with people), but if he was there, I certainly did

not see him.
James MUsing cartoons to learn English is fine -- if the material is accurate.
Of course! I expected readers to realize that I was only "responding in kind" by matching the absurdity of the post with some absurdity of my own! Emotion: smile

CJ
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Anonymous How do I know when to use the word was, versus the word were?
When speaking in the future tense, use plural verb...... Future tense: IF I were a rich man, I would date a lot of women. Past tense: When I was a rich man I dated a lot of women.

I wish I were there with you now. Or, avoid and say: I wish I could be there with you now.
I think yours is the best explanation, but is there a grammar rule that can explain it? I'm not an english native speaker.
thank you

My humble analysis of this is that it involves the use of the subjunctive. The use of "were" in this case is because its contrary to fact. I'm not "you" so I'd say "If I were you". That's where the subjunctive "mood" as opposed to the "indicative mood"

I actually didn't learn about the subjunctive until I took Spanish.

All that being said, grammarians "prescribe" language & "linguists" describe it.

So from a linguistical standpoint "If I was..." is not "wrong" in some contexts because it is in common use by many. Emotion: smile

Try out our live chat room.
Show more