Was vs. Were

Comments: 10

When I began my writing career (if you can call it that at this point) I have to admit I was confused about when to use "was" or "were." I had always written "was" in such sentences as "if it was me, I'd do such and such." Now, I know that's wrong. It should read "if it were me, ...."

I've had to learn the difference. Someone once tried to explain it to me.

Use "was" when it is a statement of fact, as in "the bell tower 'was' 120 feet tall."

Use "were" when the fact has not been determined. "If he 'were' to climb the bell tower, he would find it 'was' 120 feet tall."

Clear as mud?
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Monday, July 16, 2007

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  1. Actually, pretty clear. That's one of those rules that I know, but if I had to explain it, I'd just confuse the heck out of people.

  2. It used to be a big problem for me too. I never understood it until Bob Farley explained it to me.

  3. Yeah, he's the one who made me realize just how bad my grammar was. Did me a huge favor.

  4. My life has meaning! LOL. The term for that verb usage is "subjunctive." I think that's a word made up by a sadistic English teacher who didn't think the language was quite confusing enough. Or is it were?

  5. LOLOLOLOL!!! Now, I'm confused again, Bob. Thanks loads.

  6. Thank you! This will make my life easier.

  7. Glad to be of help, and welcome to my blog site. I'm always glad to have a new reader/commenter.

  8. Wow, thank you!

    I've been grappling with the difference for a while, but now... I understand!

    Quite magical, if you ask me. ;D

  9. Now all is clear, many thanks for the information.