Grammar For You

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An Approach to ICSE English provides a platform to contribute, discuss and comment on the various issues related to the study and practice of English for the students and teachers of ICSE syllabus. Even with its focussed nature, An Approach to ICSE English will be beneficial to everyone involved in the learning of the niceties of the English language.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Grammar Bytes: Was or Were


Was or Were

Consider these sentences:
1.     If he was stronger, Richard could win the race.
2.     If I were a rich man, I would donate some money to the poor.
These sentences use the verb were because they state things that are not true but wish to be true.  These sentences state possibilities if things were other than what they really are or, in other words, they express wishful thinking.
These possibilities can be easily recognised since they are almost always introduced by an if and are linked to another clause containing a would or could.
The phrase "I were" is called the Subjunctive Mood, and is used when you're are talking about something that isn't true or when you wish something was true.
A helpful pointer that we should use the Subjunctive Mood is when the word wish is used.
A wish is the desire or hope for something that cannot or possibly will not occur.
  1. I wish I could find a better job.
  2. I wish I were running for the presidency.
  3. If I were you, I would consult a doctor.
Always use were to express wishful or imagined or hypothetical conditions.