How many times have you heard, “If I was you…” as a prelude to receiving advice? If the quality of the grammar is any indication of the quality of the advice – beware! Give some good advice of your own, using the subjunctive mood correctly.
“Subjunctive-mood sentences state conditions that are contrary to fact, or highly unlikely to happen. They can also express strong wishes, demands or commands.”
– from Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar
Using “If” Correctly
To indicate a hypothetical situation, remember to tie “if” to “were” – not “was.”
Incorrect: “If I was you, I would seek reassignment.”
Correct: “If I were you, I would seek reassignment.” (I’m not you.)
Incorrect: “Brent walked into the gym as if he was a Greek god.”
Correct: “Brent walked into the gym as if he were a Greek god.” (He’s not a Greek god. Don’t tell him, though.)
Using “Wish” Correctly
The same holds true for a wishful statement. When using “wish,” tie it to “were” – not “was.”
Incorrect: “I wish I was as outgoing as Elaina.”
Correct: “I wish I were as outgoing as Elaina.”
Quick rule to memorize: “If” and “wish” use “were” not “was.”
Don’t let the use of incorrect grammar take away from the credibility of your message. Business grammar is critical to your professional success, and merits your attention!
Looking to improve your business grammar skills? We’re here to help! Check out Booher Academy’s training workshops: “Strategic Writing Workshop,” [http://booher.com/training/writing-skills/strategic-writing/] Proofreading and Editing Workshop,” [http://booher.com/training/writing-skills/proof-reading/] or “Good Grief, Good Grammar”[http://booher.com/training/writing-skills/good-grief-good-grammar/] just to name a few!
Sources: Booher’s Rules of Business Grammar, Dianna Booher