Is subjunctive “were” a mark of education and class?

Today the panelist on NPR’s Intelligence Square debate whose daughter works for Google (sorry I couldn’t identify his name) said, “If the issue before us was….” Clearly, since the issue was not what followed, the verb referred to a contrary-to-fact condition. If you go to and look at special programs and type in Intelligence Squared for Nov. 30, you’ll find bios on each panelist and will see that they all are highly educated wordsmiths. So what does this mean for the “were” usage in a contrary-to-fact clause?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *