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Was vs. Were for some sentences


meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Nov 24, 2009   #1
I come across this issue often.
In sentences such as:
"Sometimes while filling out papers, I sat back and wondered about all these people. The majority (were/was) young students, but some were middle-aged citizens looking for menial employment."

"If I (was/were) to eat all this food, I'd die"
<for these two, I am straying towards "The majority were..." and "I was"

I know that when you have were/was issues, it helps to look at the objects if a subject isnt directly present, such as in:

There were five pizzas on the table. There was also a soda in the cooler.

But for those oddballs, I'm not sure.

*Move if part of another thread, I didn't find one in this subject/forum.

OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Nov 25, 2009   #2
Another question that was just as puzzling to me.

Which of the following is better?Learning about and helping clients with their dilemmas, I saw some happily leave and others rush out to call potential employers.

ORLearning about different peoples' dilemmas and helping them find possible jobs, I saw some happily leave and others rush out to call potential employers.
Question I have is about the "learning about and helping clients" part. does this type of writing take away from the meaning present in the second?

Thanks
orlando 13 / 94  
Nov 25, 2009   #3
This is a good point Jonathan. I actually wonder why 'I' is used with 'were' in some particular sentences. I would like to sort it out in this thread.

I am straying towards "The majority were..."

Isn't it supposed to be 'was' ?
OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Nov 25, 2009   #4
For majority was, yes it sounds better in some cases, but here in context, I thought majority were fits more...because even if I add, The majority of these people (were/was), grammatically, was is still right. I'm stumped.

I think, just a random thought, that English conjugations have some unsolved mystery.. :]

well, maybe it's because "I were" is used in a past conditional tense (past progressive?), so possibly some old English scholar declared we use some other tense.

Look:
If I were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.
If you were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.
If he/she/it were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.
If we were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.
If you were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.
If they were to...eat any more turkey, I'd go gobble gobble.

I'm not sure if these are correct, but they sound familiar and so I think I would fall into a trap of using them.

Gobble gobble :<

*btw, how do you quote other people? I know there's a button on the side, but does that really quote anything?

antimoon.com/forum/2005/6314.htm
*how do you embed a link :|
orlando 13 / 94  
Nov 25, 2009   #5
btw, how do you quote other people? I know there's a button on the side, but does that really quote anything?

Use 'select all' button (know what I mean? click right on the mouse and select all) after you pasted the piece you are going to quote and keep it that way. Then use 'quote' button.

You should do it if you are gonna do any corrections on the piece as well.
Keng 39 / 134  
Dec 2, 2009   #6
In If clause
if s were to do sth, s would v1
if s were sth , s would v1
were s to do sth, s would v1
were s sth , s would v1

Was is a verb used in past simple tense.

There are many grammar books for you to read.

Read everyday to improve the grammar

Can i use were was in this sentence that begins with as if and as though?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Dec 4, 2009   #7
The majority (were/was) young students, but some were middle-aged citizens looking for menial employment."

Great question. The majority was. The people were. It is a matter of singular and plural. I see that others have explained as much already in this thread.

I don't really understand this other part, but I think this last one should be:
were s to sth, s would v1.
OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Dec 4, 2009   #8
I've never understood what sth means. s and n and v and adj and adv are simple enough, but the others ones...I always get confused when I'm looking through my french dictionary
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 6, 2009   #9
++

The majority (were/was) young students, but some were middle-aged citizens looking for menial employment."

Great question. The majority was. The people were. It is a matter of singular and plural. I see that others have explained as much already in this thread.

It does have every thing to do with singular or plural subjects, but tense must also be considered in order to understand when to use were vs. was (both past tense forms of be). So, if you break up your sentence, Jonathan, and identify the subject in the first part (students<plural), then we know we have to use the past tense plural of be which is were.

Did I explain that right? Hmmm. OK, think about it in first, second, or third person - (I, you, it -singular, or we, you, they - plural).

I was, you are, it is < all singular states of "being" in the present. (
I was, you were, it was < all singular states of "being" in the past.

Since your students were plural but are now singular, they were the majority but are now the minority. Now, a single student is leaving because she is tired...I wish she wasn't.

The most important clue will be the status of your subject, be careful about identifying it correctly.
:D

"Sometimes while filling out papers, I sat back and wondered about all these people.

Ok...now..."while filling, I sat." Is there something wrong here??

I know that wasn't your question, so I am stepping away from the keyboard! ;)
OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Dec 6, 2009   #10
Ok...now..."while filling, I sat." Is there something wrong here??

iono... what IS wrong here?

about plural, yes I understand about that, tis easy enough to comprehend context..
but those sentences such as

If I were to ask you about that wrong sentence, I would be straying from my first question.
And if that were not bad enough, I would be wasting your time. :|

...steps away **
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 7, 2009   #11
If I were to ask you about that wrong sentence, I would be straying from my first question.
And if that were not bad enough, I would be wasting your time. :|

You never waste my time! I think you have much to offer, and your questions are thought provoking - I find myself having to go run away and learn stuff...I live for that.

I am not supposed to be up, but I don't have my laptop and I have things to do! ...had some minor surgical complications and my foot and leg keeps ballooning up quite impressively!

Long story...anyway, about that sentence...

I can't pinpoint it because I am having a brain cramp, but... something to do with the word "sometimes" putting you in the present tense. I dunno, just feels weird. Might very well be me at this point. I am soooo tired! Sorry.

("putting" <that looks wrong too! Puting, pudding? Must be the meds...8)
**dragged away by unseen forces**

**crawls back, kicking at the bony hand clasped tightly around her ankle**

I think we should have more of these threads! It is a great teaching/learning tool, and many of us can benefit by shared knowledge, experience, and research.

I would like to know, for instance, why every one says "that" when it should be "who." "I am the one who asked that question" vs. "I am the one that asked that question" see?

**bony fingers clamp painfully...Blue skiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiies!
OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Dec 7, 2009   #12
who with people, or other human entities, is the right one.
that with objects, or similar nonhuman entities, is the other.

it's just that we sometimes forget which goes with which. rather a small mindless mistake I think. though it's funny when we talk about people thatwho fail to do this ^^
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 9, 2009   #13
Help a sister out...

the tree soon died too.

...the tree ,too, soon died (??)
OP meisj0n 8 / 272 2  
Dec 9, 2009   #14
you asking if that second one works? i think so.. make the commas right.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,334 129  
Dec 10, 2009   #16
I like:
The tree died soon, too.
mbhong 2 / 3  
Dec 11, 2009   #17
If I (was/were) to eat all this food, I'd die.

I chose "were"
timeturner36 8 / 26  
Dec 20, 2009   #18
When it's subjunctive, use "were". When it's indicative, use "was"
Hope this helps :)
Jeannie 10 / 214  
Dec 20, 2009   #19
When it's subjunctive, use "were". When it's indicative, use "was"

Good info! Here is a site I found that explains in more detail:

englishplus/grammar/00000031.htm

Thanks, timeturner36!


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