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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > If she was / were?    

If she was / were?



dagn
France

If she was / were?
 
Good evening guys!
I ´m sorry to bother you but I happen to be a very poor teacher when it comes to grammar or linguistics!
what would you rather say:
 
"If she was alive, how old would she be?" OR "If she were alive, how old would she be?" and why?
 
Thanks for your help!
 
 

10 Sep 2011      



zeina monzer
Lebanon

good evening ,
 
it ´s "If she were"
 
were is used with all the  pronouns in "if clause"
this site may help you
 

10 Sep 2011     



lovemykids
Uruguay

Hi dagn!
This is called the past subjunctive of the verb to be and you can use it both ways; was or were no matter which is the subject of the sentence. Hope it helps!
Cheers!

10 Sep 2011     



lovemykids
Uruguay

...it seems I ´m wrongConfused Can anyone help me now??? 
thanks!

10 Sep 2011     



Kate (kkcat)
Russian Federation

Both are fine :) I prefer the first way of saying it, sounds more natural to me. I ´d say, the sentence with -was- is informal, while the one with -were- is just what we have all been taught and represents traditional English Grammar. With AmE, things have changed and things have become a teeny bit easier, but again, I´ve heard that in spoken language...My fav American writer still uses -were- in all kinds of such sentences :)

11 Sep 2011     



Tere-arg
Argentina

After IF  we use a past subjunctive.

The past subjunctive coincides with the simple past in form, except for the verb "to be" which always takes were.

So the grammatically correct form is  were. Anyway, when speaking (= informal language) was is acceptable.


11 Sep 2011     



lovemykids
Uruguay

Thanks a lot Tere and Kate. I ´ve always used, heard and seen them written both ways.
Kind regards from cold Uruguay!

11 Sep 2011     



almaz
United Kingdom

Both are grammatically correct, Veronique - and there´s certainly no real semantic distinction, as far as I´m concerned. ´Was´ is often preferred for emphasis. In any case, ´were´ is considered more of a relic than an actual past subjunctive. Think of Shakespeare:

 

If it were done when ´tis done, then ´twere well it were done quickly

 

(this is before Macbeth murders Duncan)

 

And remember that ´if´ doesn ´t always introduce an unreal condition, which means that it doesn´t require a subjunctive anyway ("If Malcolm was in my class at school, he certainly didn´t stand out"). 

11 Sep 2011     



libertybelle
United States

Get yourself

Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.

It is a great book to look up things - and your grammar will improve too!

11 Sep 2011     



dagn
France

thanks to all of you for your answers. Libertybelle: I ´ll get that book because I really need something else than school books to improve my (poor) grammar!

11 Sep 2011     



dagn
France

thanks to all of you for your answers. Libertybelle: I ´ll get that book because I really need something else than school books to improve my (poor) grammar!

11 Sep 2011