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Alice talks as if she were/was rich. Options
Reiko07
Posted: Thursday, October 8, 2020 11:36:44 PM

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(1) Alice talks as if she were rich.

(2) Alice talks as if she was rich.

Question: Are these two sentences interchangeable in today's English?

A Japanese teacher of English says that in today's English, #2 implies that she is not rich.

I guess that most native AE speakers would prefer #1 to #2.

KMQ
Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 12:32:53 PM

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It sounds as if "she was rich" could be in the past tense.
FounDit
Posted: Friday, October 9, 2020 2:56:33 PM

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Reiko07 wrote:
(1) Alice talks as if she were rich.

(2) Alice talks as if she was rich.

Question: Are these two sentences interchangeable in today's English?

A Japanese teacher of English says that in today's English, #2 implies that she is not rich.

I guess that most native AE speakers would prefer #1 to #2.



Yes, #1 is preferred because it is correct, while #2 is not correct. Using "as if" presents a hypothetical, and that should use "were". However, we don't always speak correctly, and sometimes people will use "was" rather than "were", but it isn't correct English.

For it to be past tense, it should say, "Alice said she was rich before she lost it all".
Combining "said" and "was" puts both in the past tense. She said it at some point in the past.

or,

"Alice says she was rich at one time".
Combining "says" (present tense) with "was" (past tense) tells of a past condition in the present time. She says it now and speaks of the past.
Reiko07
Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2020 1:02:12 PM

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Thanks, KMQ and FounDit. Angel


I think that only were (subjunctive) is grammatically correct. As I see it, "she would do" is implied after "as":

(3) Alice talks as she would do if she were rich.

Having said that, I have seen several sentences in which "was" is used the way it is in #2, for example,

(4) They stared at me as if I was crazy.
[Cambridge Dictionary (The numbering and emphasis are mine.)]

This sentence might be British English.


BobShilling
Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2020 1:13:34 PM
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'Was' is acceptable to most speakers of BrE these days. I am a subjunctive user, but I am in the minority.
Reiko07
Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2020 1:18:35 PM

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Thanks, BobShilling. Angel

BobShilling
Posted: Saturday, October 10, 2020 2:16:46 PM
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You're welcome.
Reiko07
Posted: Saturday, October 17, 2020 2:33:04 PM

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(5) Alice talks like she were rich.

Is this version informal?

Audiendus
Posted: Saturday, October 17, 2020 8:35:26 PM
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Reiko07 wrote:
(5) Alice talks like she were rich.

Is this version informal?

The "like" is definitely informal, but the "were" is formal, so it's a mixture.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 5:56:22 AM
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Yes, as Audiendus says, it's a mixture - an extremely unlikely one.

"Alice talks like she was rich." might be said - but a person using that kind of informal language would have no reason to use "were".
Reiko07
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2020 11:44:31 AM

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Thanks, Audiendus and Romany. Angel


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