Stop!....grammar time.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by outlandish, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    The construction "If he were a rich man ..." is also known as a counterfactual, and it is technically wrong to write "If he was a rich man ...", as has already been explained.
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  3. John99 Banned Banned

    In this case it should read- When i was a rich girl.

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    If i were a rich girl. Simple really.
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  5. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    Not if you want to sound smart.

    Switch around 'were' with 'was', and that would be correct.

    In Germanic languages such as English, the past subjunctive form of a verb is based off the imperfect form.

    In Anglo-Saxon, the language Beowulf is written in and the language English is descended from, there were two imperfect forms of a verb, one used for the first and third person, and another for the rest. The latter one was used for the past subjunctive.

    An example: bītan - 'to bite'.

    First form is bāt-, second form is bit-.

    ic bāt — I bit
    þū bite — thou bit
    hē bāt — he bit
    wē biton — we bit
    gē biton — ye bit
    hīo biton — they bit

    The form used for past subjunctive is bit-.

    ic bite — [if] I bit
    þū bite — [if] thou bit
    hē bite — [if] he bit
    wē biten — [if] we bit
    gē biten — [if] ye bit
    hīo biten — [if] they bit

    Notice we don't say something like "The dog bate me" instead of "The dog bit me". That's because the distinction between first imperfect and second imperfect eroded away since then, except in the verb 'to be'.

    First form is wæs-, second form is wǣr-.

    ic wæs — I was
    þū wǣre — thou wert
    hē wæs — he was
    wē wǣron — we were
    gē wǣron — ye were
    hīo wǣron — they were

    If the distinction between first imperfect and second imperfect had eroded away in 'to be', we all (and not just people from Yorkshire) would say something like, "She were beautiful".

    In every verb except 'to be', the imperfect and past subjunctive forms of the verb are exactly the same in all persons.

    I bit > if I bit
    thou bit > if thou bit

    I think this has consequently caused an erosion in the distinction between imperfect and past subjunctive altogether, thus people saying "if I was" when it should be "if I were".

    Because people anally decide not to learn correct grammar.

    As raven said, you would normally use 'whom' as the object.

    I was hit by whom? You were hit by him.
    They love her! Who? The Harijuku Girls. And whom? Gwen Stefani.

    But nowadays, 'whom' is almost as obsolete as 'thou'.

    To me it's incorrect. "This is a hhhistoric fact". I go "hhhkhkh" when I say 'historic'. But then I say "I am an 'onest man". There's no breathy hacking like in 'historic'. And it irritates me to see or hear "an 'istoric".

    I don't need a sleazy shirt to tell me my knot is hot.
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