The subjunctive preterit

Understanding grammar is key to understanding a language.
English grammar tips with Gymglish, online English lessons.

The subjunctive preterit

The past subjunctive is used in the following type of constructions:
If I were you, I would talk to the manager.
It allows us to express a supposition, a wish, a desire (etc.), and is conjugated like the past simple, except for the verb to be:
Iwere(and not was)
Youwere
Hewere(and not was)
Wewere
Youwere
Theywere
Common constructions which use the past subjunctive:

•  after if:
If I were a rich man!
If I had more time, I would show you my office. (= If I'd more time, I'd show you my office.)
(would expresses the conditional)
If she were my girlfriend, I would buy her roses every day.
•  after the verb to wish, expressing a wish or regret:
I wish you were here. I regret the fact that you are not here.
Do you surf? - (No but) I wish I could. Do you surf? - (No but) I would love to surf.
•  after would rather, expressing a preference:
I'd rather you came another time. I would prefer you to come another time.
Horatio would rather people didn't know about his test monkeys. Horatio would prefer people not to know about his test monkeys.
•  after it's time:
It's about time Willy retired. It's time for Willy to retire.
It's high time that you and I had a chat about it.

Taking your learning further

Still facing difficulties with 'The subjunctive preterit'? Improve your English with Gymglish - try our English lessons for free now and receive a free level assessment!

Do you know any tips to avoid making mistakes with 'The subjunctive preterit'? Share it with us!

Find out about other grammar rules. Improve your English further and test Gymglish, online English lessons.