Answer to English Grammar Question 128

Hi! I was told today that I had to say "if I were you" and not "if I was you".Why is that? Moreover, why do we have to say "last year, you were in England" and not "you was" for the second person singular? Thanks

From member: Chris in Belgium


Answer

Chris:
1. IF I WERE YOU
This is one of the rare (compared to other European languages) use of the subjunctive in English.The past subjunctive form of 'to be' is I were, you were, etc.
If I were younger, I would go and live in Bali.
2. LAST YEAR YOU WERE IN ENGLAND
This is a standard use of the simple past to talk about an action in the past that is completed. The third person simple past form, singular and plural, of 'you' is 'were'.



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