Posted by: Jack Henry | April 9, 2013

Editor’s Corner: The Subjunctive

A couple weeks ago, an article came out about a few grammar rules we should all have a look at. Many of you agreed, and sent the article to me. Today is the first of the seven rules, based on the article “7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to,” by Ben Yagoda. (Because the title and punctuation in the article do not agree with our standards, I’m paraphrasing some of Mr. Yagoda’s material to avoid questions and corrections from those of you who are really on the ball.)

Rule One: The Subjunctive

When you’re writing or talking about a situation that is not true—usually following the word if or the verb wish—the verb to be is rendered as were (subjunctive)instead of was.


· If I was were a rich man. [Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum.
If I were a wealthy man.]

· I wish I was were an Oscar Mayer wiener.

· If Hillary Clinton was were president, things would be a whole lot different.

If you are using if for other purposes (hypothetical situations, questions), you do not use the subjunctive.


· The reporter asked him if he were was happy.

· If an intruder were was here last night, he would have left footprints, so let’s look at the ground outside.

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