Editing for Grammarphobes: Was Versus Were


Reader JeanK. raised a great question regarding the use of was versus were in last Wednesday’s post entitled “Miscellany.”

“If I was...” or “If I were...” Which is correct?

Well, Jean, after doing some research, I found it is a matter of subjunctive versus indicative mood. The subjunctive is used to express wishful thinking. The indicative should be used for statements of fact.


If I were president, I would never make any cuts in the national budget for the arts.

If you have a hard time remembering this, think of “If I Were a Rich Man,” the famous song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Jean, along with several grammar columnists, refers to this when in doubt. Handy, right?

Thanks, JeanK., for bring this up. Please keep those comments coming.

June Flash Fiction Fridays Theme Announced 

Calling all flash fiction writers! The June theme is...drumroll, please... Escape.

Are you up to the challenge? Remember, 500 words or less on your interpretation of escape.

The deadline is May 30, 2011.

Please send your submissions to me at karen@karenberner.com and put “Flash Fiction Fridays” in the subject line. Don’t forget to include a short bio and links. The only thing I ask of you is to sign up to follow Bibliophilic Blather so we can build up our online writing community.

As always, I am looking forward to reading your work.


I need to share this tip with my students! You explained the difference between was and were really well. Thanks. =)

Miss GOP
Kelly Hashway said…
I see people getting the was/were thing wrong all the time. My students use to really struggle with it.
Glad I can be of assistance. Thanks for reading, Kelly and Miss GOP.

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