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Can someone give me a hand with 'were to' & 'was to' please?

(12 Posts)
tearinghairout Sat 06-Sep-08 11:43:21

OK, I'm editing a document & getting tied up with if something 'was to' happen, eg. quite a lot of discussion along the lines of...
"...if there was no [cost] ceiling in place and an operator was to make an insurance claim..."

OK, so a)operator is singular, and b) we're talking about something that might happen, not that did (as in was, in the past).

So my question is, do I have to pull out every 'was' & change it to a 'were to' or 'were to be'?
Is awfully clumsy.


it should read[i think]

if there was no cost ceiling in place and an operator were to make a laim

but don't take my wordgrin

BitOfFun Sat 06-Sep-08 11:51:27

I think "were to" as well- you are talking about something that mighthappen as a consequence of something else, so it's subjuctive. Probably blush

tearinghairout Sat 06-Sep-08 11:55:53

Yes, my brain has gone to sponge (deadline coming up, eyes propped open with matchsticks.

The thing is that they are discussing scenarios where the potential cost is or isn't capped... but 'If there were to be no ceiling in place and an operator were to ...' sounds wrong.

So, thank you!

Ellbell Sat 06-Sep-08 12:34:41

'Were to' is correct, but the subjunctive is increasingly not used in modern English, which is why it sounds odd.

tearinghairout Sat 06-Sep-08 15:49:39

So, does that make 'was' wrong? Another example, (it's in a report): 'If £6million was invested today at X interest rate,in ten years it would be worth....'

If it's wrong I ought to change it to 'were to be', no?

SqueakyPop Sat 06-Sep-08 15:51:47

Subjunctive voice - if I were to ...

Habbibu Sat 06-Sep-08 15:53:27

doesn't have to be "were to be" - "were invested" is fine - just the subjunctive of the same verb

tearinghairout Sat 06-Sep-08 15:54:37

So do you think 'was', in the 'investment' example, is actually wrong, even though we'd all say it (most of us!)?

Habbibu Sat 06-Sep-08 15:58:10

I don't really mind either - the subjunctive survives pretty rarely these days, and isn't crucial for communication. On balance I do prefer "were", but as a direct replacement for was in all your examples, not with the "to be" added.

itwasntme Sat 06-Sep-08 16:00:41

I agree with were, you should us the subjunctive.

tearinghairout Sat 06-Sep-08 16:20:52

Thanks. Much appreciated.

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