Welcome to
ESL Printables, the website where English Language teachers exchange resources: worksheets, lesson plans,  activities, etc.
Our collection is growing every day with the help of many teachers. If you want to download you have to send your own contributions.





ESL Forum:

Techniques and methods in Language Teaching

Games, activities and teaching ideas

Grammar and Linguistics

Teaching material

Concerning worksheets

Concerning powerpoints

Concerning online exercises

Make suggestions, report errors

Ask for help

Message board


ESL forum > Ask for help > Was or Were?    

Was or Were?

United States

Was or Were?
Hello everyone!
Please tell me which sounds correct to you:
I wish I were thinner.
I wish I was thinner.
To me, the first sounds better, but I was under the impression that "I were" was used in an unreal situation such as: "I wish I were a bird," not for a more true situation such as "I wish I were thinner!"
Please tell me what you think.........
Thank you!
Deb :)

9 Nov 2010      

United States

Me too!

More seriously, I honestly believe the subjunctive mood we were taught in school is dying, at least in the USA. I still like "I wish I were thinner" better myself, but I don t correct people who say "I wish I was thinner." 

(I actually am a lot thinner than I used to be. I lost 60 pounds/about 25 kg three years ago. Unfortunately, I ve put 5 pounds/2.5 kg back on. Need to work them off! Of course, the best time to start a diet is right before Thanksgiving and Christmas <sarcasm>.)

9 Nov 2010     

United States

"I wish I were thinner" is grammatically correct, but is beginning to fade out of use. "...I were" is for unreal situations, not unrealistic situations, so you were half right.
"I wish I was thinner" is becoming more common in the US. I don t know about elsewhere.

9 Nov 2010     


I agree with Bruce. Although I wish I were is still grammatically correct, it s being crowded out by the easier I wish I was, especially by younger people. 

IMHO  I wish I were  will be referred to as obsolete in Swan s Grammar, edition 2020. BTW, I wish I was is not considered incorrect at all.

BTW, both sentences mentioned as examples (I wish I were/was a bird; I wish I was/were thinner) are equally unreal. Theyre unreal because they are not true now, theyre hypothetical, theyre wishes. 

The odds of you ever becoming a bird might be lower than slimming up, but its still no certainty. Smile

9 Nov 2010     

United States

Wow, thanks for all the replies!  You guys are great!
@MoodyMoody - Glad you are thinner now!  I will be trying to get in better shape myself after the holidays! lol  :)

9 Nov 2010     


The correct is, of course, I wish I were thinner, as has been pointed out by several site friends, and all of them have noted that it is falling out of use. 
Even I, have, unfortunately, found myself saying, "I wish I was thinner." (Usually as I stuff the 3rd piece of cake in my mouth.)
Hugfrom Israel.

9 Nov 2010     

United States

Beyonce s song  - If I Were a Boy is not an old song!
What about "If I were a Rich Man?

I would use were.


9 Nov 2010     

United States

@Judy - lol.  I usually say it as I m finishing off a big bowl of ice cream!
@libertybelle -Thanks for the song ideas!

9 Nov 2010     


Personally I alternate between "if I was " and If I were" depending on my mood but the phrase "if I were you" is quite unique..a little bit of old-fashioned grammar that has stuck.
Today we were discussing whom which most of my students have learnt but which is rarely used.
One of my Saudi students asked why English kept changing all the time. He was convinced that every other language is completely static. I couldn t convince him that language is a living thing and so subject to constant change.
My tuppence worth,

9 Nov 2010     

United States

Thanks again to all who contributed!
I m so grateful to all for this wonderful site! :)

9 Nov 2010