Stop!....grammar time.

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

  1. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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    was listening to Bill Buckley's late night talk show on the wireless a few weeks back. Now Bill's a stickler for grammar and some debate ensued after he commented on the lyrics to gwen steffani's tune:

    if I was a rich girl

    as Bill pointed out, it should be:

    if I were a rich girl

    why? and why/how is the other one wrong?

    grammar is satan's tool I tell thee.
     
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  3. Absane Rocket Surgeon Valued Senior Member

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    Was is past tense. She is making a reference to being a rich girl "now."

    At least, that is my take on it.
     
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  5. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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    well she's saying if
    if I was/were a rich girl.

    implying that she wishes she was/were rich.
     
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  7. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    That is the correct grammatical sentence structure. However, and ain't there always a 'however', the other sentence using "were" has been used so much and by so many that it's also now recognized as correct.

    English, like many things in life, is not a static issue ...it's ever-changing.

    Baron Max
     
  8. Tyler Registered Senior Member

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    Ah, Baron, I think you have things mixed up.

    I believe the traditional way in English to say the hypothetical is "if I were x". In the olden days "If I was x" would mean more exactly "If in the past I had been x" as opposed "What if now I was x". And it is the "If I was x" which has become colloquial.

    I may be wrong, but I'm fairly certain of this.
     
  9. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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    anyone's head hurting yet?
     
  10. Absane Rocket Surgeon Valued Senior Member

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    A lot of people aren't sure about this one. It should be 'if I were Queen', not 'if I was Queen', because 'were' is the conditional and 'was' is just the past tense. It makes no sense to say, 'If I was Queen' because I already know whether I was the Queen or not. But I can still speculate about what would happen if I were Queen.

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=60680
     
  11. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    Were is for untrue hypotheticals for use with the verb "to be".
    If I were rich.
    If she were speeding.
    If Dan were here we would know what to do.

    Was is past tense of am.
    I was rich.
    She was speeding.
    Dan wasn't there, so they didn't know what to do.
     
  12. imaplanck. Banned Banned

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    Why do people have to anally demand correct grammar every fricking where they stick their nose?
     
  13. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Do you have any backup evidence for your assertion?

    Baron Max
     
  14. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    Here's one...

    Source

    Something a little more authoritative...

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.

    What is "past subjunctive of be"?

    Entry in The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. 1993.
     
  15. Zephyr Humans are ONE Registered Senior Member

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  16. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Correct.
     
  17. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

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    "Were" is obviously also plural of was (I was/they were) but that doesn't apply to the scenario mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2006
  18. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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    raven,
    respect is due.
    ok, now sort out the who/whom issue.

    baron:
    you dipshit.
     
  19. Absane Rocket Surgeon Valued Senior Member

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  20. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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  21. Sandoz Girl Named Sandoz Registered Senior Member

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    Speaking proper English is a mark of respect for the person you're addressing, you tool.

    But great thread title. Brought a smile to my face.
     
  22. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

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    Thanks, Raven, I appreciate the lesson and the info.



    I'm not sure how you see name-calling as necessary or even applicable? I simply asked Raven for the very info that he willingly and seemingly happily provided. And which, I might add, even you thanked him for it.

    Baron Max
     
  23. outlandish smoki'n....... Registered Senior Member

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    baron:
    it's not about necessity, or application.
    it's free will.
    I can because I want to, ergo I do.
     

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