Use of Subjunctive Mood in Verbs

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Now here’s a misusage that almost no ear, nor eye, will ever catch. 

What’s wrong with this lyric:

“If I was a rich man…”?

If this clause reads and sounds okay to you, then you’re definitely among the majority of English users who don’t know, don’t understand or otherwise just ignore the subjunctive mood.

Briefly, the to be verb takes the subjective form were when used in if constructions expressing a wish or condition.  For instance:

“If I were in New York today, I could visit my friend Daniel.”

You’re not in New York, so the if expresses a wish or condition and thus requires the subjunctive mood in the verb, which is plural rather than singular.

If I was just learning English, I’d be confused, but if I were born here, I might still be confused.  (Find the error–or irony–in there yet?)

Categories: Grammar Sucks

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