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Nuance or False? When Mrs Parsons' sink was broken she asked Winston to fix it. Mrs Parsons said that to Winston 'Of course if Tom was home he'd put it right in a moment,' she said. 'He loves anything like that. He's ever so good with his hands, Tom is.' * But her husband, Tom, was at work so he could not have fixed it. Mrs Parson was talking conditionally about 'unreal' circumstances. Could Mrs Parson have said that 'Of course if Tom were here he'd put it right in a moment.' in that case if Tom had been died, or they have been divorced? I mean, is there any differece between 'was' and 'were' in a situation, like this? Does 'were' refer to a more unlikely possibility, or I am absolutely wrong? * citation from '1984' by George OrwellOr another example 'If I were home I could check it it for you.' 'If I was home I would check it for you.' Can the second one mean that 'as soon I get back to home I will check it' contrasted with the first one meaning 'I am not at home so I cannot help'?
Feb 25, 2012 5:33 PM
Answers · 3
Peti, Nuance. It is a nuance, related to Orwell's knowledge of English usage. "If he was" is the conversational form of "If he were". It is common in speech and informal writing. A less formal way of speaking is appropriate to the situation in the novel. She is talking with the man who has come to fix her broken sink. There is nothing to indicate that Mrs. Parson does not have a proper English education. In a more formal context, if the woman had been speaking of her deceased husband as you suggested, she might have used the grammatically correct "If he were...."
February 27, 2012
It would have been better for her to use "were", which is subjunctive mood. If her English were better, I am sure she would have used it.
February 26, 2012
Has it not occurred to you that Mrs Parson would not know the subtleties between "was" and "were" and have chosen the more obvious "was"? ;) The second part of your question is an entirely different discussion.
February 26, 2012
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