Monday, August 01, 2005

The Extinction of Were

I have trouble listening to bad grammar. While I try my best not to correct other people, surely I can protest when I start using the wrong word. In this case, I'm surrounded. To illustrate, if I was in Texas, it would take me about 2 hours to acclimate and start saying "y'all". I'd try to fight it, just like I try to fight the inappropriate use of was. But I pick up other people's mannerisms, accents and expressions with ease - it's really sad. The word? Was. "Was" is a fine word when used correctly, but around here people use it in place of "were".

Was you going to go out today?
Wasn't you there yesterday?

Is this the Oregonian equivalent of y'all?

I certainly hope not!

Now, as far as I can tell, you should generally use "were" when you are speaking in the past tense, and then only when you are referring to more than one person (Jane and Michael were trying to cross the border with my chihuahuas!), or when you are asking someone about themselves. (Were you able to find your chihuahuas? Were they dehydrated?)

Now, I know that my own grammar is sometimes lacking (though I try), but I have to draw the line somewhere! Are you with me on this? Let's try to stamp out the misuse of was!


Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks to Holly for pointing this out my misuse of the word "was" in the following instance:

You should say, "...if I WERE in Texas...." The reason is that it is not likely that you were in Texas anytime recently. This sentence is in the subjunctive (or wishful) tense. Not that I'm implying that you wish you were in Texas, because I know you better than that. However, if it were possible that you HAD been in Texas, you could say, "If I was in Texas last week I would have sent you a postcard."

10:25 PM, August 25, 2005  
Blogger Ted said...

If I WERE you, I'd be a little more circumspect about my own grammar before pointing out other people's flawed rhetoric. You line, "...when you are asking someone about themselves..." reveals a very common grammatical faux pas: using a plural pronoun to refer to a singular noun. The pronoun should have been "himself" or "herself"---which would have agreed with "someone." Nevermind about the gender thing. What matters here is the singularity.

Hey, grammatical glitches aside, I do plan to read more of your postings. I was originally interested in what you had to say because I, too, have ADD.

At least, I think that's why I'm here...


1:55 PM, September 24, 2005  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Thanks Ted! I thought I made it clear that my own grammar is lacking, but I do have to start somewhere. Ain't gonna happen on it's own! 'Least wise, not while I live in Oregon! (That was all intentional, by the way.)

2:41 PM, September 24, 2005  

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