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Usage and Grammar
Q. We can’t seem to resolve this question and are hoping you can help. Which sentence is correct: “I just wish she was still alive” or “I just wish she were still alive”? As I understand it, “were” is used with a singular subject as a subjunctive to express an unreal condition. “If she were alive today . . .” My vote is with the second sentence, but we have some dissent because it doesn’t sound right to others in this office. Can you help put this to rest? Thanks in advance.
A. You are right; it’s a subjunctive. And if it doesn’t sound right to your colleagues, is it because they are under thirty? (I have a feeling nobody teaches the subjunctive anymore.)