Tuesday, April 13, 2010

my dialect and subjunctive verbs

I got corrected on subjunctive verb usage today, which I found odd enough to blog about.

My utterance was something like: "If it was..." -- and I got interrupted with "if it were". My immediate response: "My dialect doesn't do that."

Rudeness aside, what would you say, and under what circumstances? What are the odds, do you think, that my interlocutor has the "if I be..." construction?

4 comments:

Graham said...

Oooo, snap!

I didn't realize there be alternatives for the subjunctive in English, but I don't know the theory for my grammer that well...

Alex Rudnick said...

Maaan, I bet you're pretty fluent in Spanish, these days. (Have you been speaking Catalan too?)

So do you say "if it was", "if it were", or something else, to talk about a hypothetical situation?

Graham said...

Yeah, I guess I would say "were" but there are plenty of people that say "was".

Yes, my Spanish is ok, and I'm starting to speak Catalan a bit with some of my choir friends, and above all, watch Catalan novelas...

John said...

I say "if I were," and if I were corrected I'd probably say, "Oh, thanks, you're right." I'm used to a pretty aggressive conversational style, though, and also I am kind of the face of prescriptive linguistics. Reasonable people could disagree.