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The subjunctive or not being able to go for a run

February 17, 2012

I feel a certain loyalty to the subjunctive, of what is not and what we wish for, my homeland. When I read sentences such as, “I wish I was home,” (wrong) rather than “I wish I were home,” (right) I feel righteous and annoyed, even though I used to do this myself and would not have heard the difference thirty years ago. It has taken me years to understand English and so perhaps I should not be too hard on my students, who are still comparatively new to English usage. To their ears, the indicative and the subjunctive are the same thing. And why does it matter? Other things are more important, like world hunger. In fact, if I were not lying here on the couch and could go for a run, perhaps a few stray wases would not bother me, which reminds me that there was a funny note in the Book Review last week. The reviewer of a biography of Madeline L’Engle got Mrs. Whatsit’s name wrong. He called her Mrs. Whasis. No reader of my generation would make that mistake.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 6:13 am

    Were running with you…

  2. February 17, 2012 6:14 am

    What I meant was, “were I running with you…”

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