1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    Was/Were

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Rumwriter, Jul 11, 2011.

    "I wish I was" or "I wish I were"

    I'm thinking it depends on what you are saying.

    For instance:

    "I wish I were a sailor." That to me sounds like you currently want to be a sailor.
    "I wish I was a sailor." That sounds as though you wish at one point you could have been a sailor. But that's just what I take from it.

    What are the actual rules for this? Really you could avoid all confusion and say "I want to be a sailor." But still, I'd like to know the answer.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Were.

    Look up subjunctive voice (start with google).
     
  3. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Certainly not going to win any awards for my grammar and someone will come slap my hand :p

    If I currently want to be a sailor I would say "I wish I were a sailor."
    If I wished at one point I had been a sailor I would say "I wish I had been a sailor."

    I don't think "I wish I was a sailor" is wrong, I just don't like it.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, it's the subjunctive mood of passive voice. In the above sentence, "...I was..." would be indicative voice, which reflects an actual state of affairs. But the verb is "wish", reflecting a non-factual state of affairs, and the subjunctive mood is used.
     

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