Amy
Devoted April 2017

SOS. Any grammar smarties out there?

Amy, on July 26, 2016 at 3:35 PM Posted in Style and Décor 0 24
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OK - so this is my second post today- but the other one was a dress post and totally unrelated. I am having a grammar brain fart, and I cannot order this sign from ETSY until I wrap my brain around this. Google is confusing me further. Which is correct? A or B?

A) We know you would be here today if heaven WASN'T so far away.

B) We know you would be here today if heaven WEREN'T so far away.

I'm an English major, too. I just can't figure it out. If I recall... was is factual, weren't is counter factual.

So I'm short. So I would say "I wish I weren't so short." Heaven is far away. So I would say "I wish heaven weren't so far away." Right? So the Justin Moore song is grammatically incorrect...

24 Comments

Latest activity by Stacey, on August 23, 2021 at 7:44 PM
  • Kathryn
    VIP August 2016
    Kathryn ·
    • Flag

    ETA: "I just googled it and got rid of my other answer "The other common pattern is with if-then sentences. (Note: then may be implied if it is not always verbalized, and the then clause may precede the if clause in that case.) If the main and subordinate clauses are both true or not known to be true or false, then the indicative verb forms are used:

    If I wasn't asked to help, at least I was willing to help. (And I wasn't asked to help.)

    If they are prepared, then they will come out on top. (And they may or may not be prepared--we'll see.)

    The most common pattern that people get tripped up on are if-then sentences where the if clause is counterfactual. In these cases, the if clauses use the past subjunctive forms were and weren't, even if the subject is singular or the verb is present tense. The then clause--and this is usually a giveaway--will take the conditional form. This is usually indicated by the word would or one of the other past form modal verbs (could, might):

    If I were a rich man, I wouldn't have to work hard. (But I am not a rich man.)

    He could be much more successful if he weren't so negative. (But he is so negative.)"

    In conclusion...that's a lot of info, I think it's weren't, and I agree with @onawho that the comma is the bigger deal, haha.

    • Reply
  • onawho
    VIP August 2015
    onawho ·
    • Flag

    The missing comma is grinding my gears more than wasn't or weren't LOL

    • Reply
  • Rebecca
    Master November 2015
    Rebecca ·
    • Flag

    Weren't, subjunctive is correct.

    • Reply
  • M
    Master July 2015
    m ·
    • Flag

    .

    • Reply
  • Amy
    Devoted April 2017
    Amy ·
    • Flag

    Comma added! None of the signs have them... I guess because of formatting?? They don't have periods either and of course have nonsensical, artistic capitalization. But the wasn't/weren't thing was grinding my gears.

    • Reply
  • LauraM
    VIP February 2017
    LauraM ·
    • Flag

    I'm thinking it's weren't

    • Reply
  • Jacks
    Master November 2054
    Jacks ·
    • Flag

    Weren't

    • Reply
  • MeantToBeAKennedy
    Expert October 2016
    MeantToBeAKennedy ·
    • Flag

    From my mom who is an editor: "Weren't. Anytime you have an 'if' clause, you use the subjunctive verb. The easiest way to remember it is the song from Fiddler on the Roof 'If I were a rich man'. So anytime you wonder what the verb should be after an 'if', think of that song and the verb 'were' that's in it."

    • Reply
  • S
    Master January 2017
    SnowQueen ·
    • Flag

    @meanttobeakennedy I love the way you explained that and I will keep that in my memory. Love it.

    • Reply
  • Amy
    Devoted April 2017
    Amy ·
    • Flag

    @meanttobeakennedy OMG that is SO helpful - now I will never forget. Thank you.

    • Reply
  • MeantToBeAKennedy
    Expert October 2016
    MeantToBeAKennedy ·
    • Flag

    I wish I could take credit for the clever analogy, but that's all my mom! She's so cute.

    • Reply
  • bellamae
    Master March 2017
    bellamae ·
    • Flag

    Care to share the sign?? I'm searching for something similar to that!

    • Reply
  • TheHouseOfAllen
    Super October 2016
    TheHouseOfAllen ·
    • Flag

    B

    • Reply
  • Celia Milton
    Celia Milton ·
    • Flag

    I can't help you because

    a. I don't know

    b. I don't like that sign.

    • Reply
  • Celia Milton
    Celia Milton ·
    • Flag

    Love your mom Kennedy!

    • Reply
  • Dena
    Master April 2017
    Dena ·
    • Flag

    I say it's weren't and there's no need for a comma.

    • Reply
  • Melody
    Master April 2017
    Melody ·
    • Flag

    The answer is weren't.

    However those signs make me sad.

    • Reply
  • Lori
    Devoted October 2016
    Lori ·
    • Flag

    Weren't, is right. I'm making a variation of this sign and saying " if you hadn't been called so far away". Not all involved in our remembrance table have passed away.

    • Reply
  • Rachel DellaPorte
    Rachel DellaPorte ·
    • Flag

    MeantToBeAKennedy -- that's exactly what I was taught; If the word "if" is involved, it's "were"(or weren't), not "was" (or wasn't). I like that short cut your mom came up with. I tend to keep it simple when rules of grammar come into play -- use the phrase, "subjective verb" and their eyes are glazing over.

    • Reply
  • Amy
    Devoted April 2017
    Amy ·
    • Flag

    @celia and @melody The sign will be a little sad, I agree. But it's a pretty mild way to acknowledge our two sons that passed this spring. I couldn't move forward with the day without it. It's okay if people are a little sad or even side eye it as unnecessary. It's necessary for us.

    Thanks everyone for the input!

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