Grammar Demons, Take That (Part 23)

A super interesting one today, about subjunctives.
The question is simple: I wish I were or I wish I was – which one of them is correct usage?
Answer: Both. Each has to be used in its specific context.
From Grammar.net:

What Does “Subjunctive” Mean?

“Subjunctive” refers to a “verb mood” that conveys an urgency, and it generally points to a desire or imaginary situation. This mood is most noticeable in the third person. In subjunctive form, the simplest root of the word is used.

“It is necessary that each farmer water his field and milk his cows.”
“The chickens requested that the fox be removed.”

These sentences illustrate an urgency, and the latter goes further with a prompt–please remove that fox so those poor chickens will not be eaten.

Now, coming back to the original question– Both forms, “I wish I were” and “I wish I was” are used to express a desire. However, “I wish I were” is used to express an impossible wish, while “I wish I was” depicts a scenario that can become possible.


Do you have any favorite grammar battle? Do share. As always, if you have a favorite infographic or tips to share, please feel free to comment.

Source: I wish I were . . . from Grammar.net.

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books. Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

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Posted in infographics, interesting stuffs, on writing

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