Grammar Bytes: Was or Were

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Was or Were
Consider these sentences:
If he was stronger, Richard could win the race.
If I were a rich man, I would donate some money to the poor.
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.
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
  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.


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