Conventions of Composition Rule 152
Rule: Use the subjunctive to show that a verb is contrary to fact or expressing desire. The subjunctive form is the past, plural form of a verb: were (not was), took, would, called, etc.
Note: Was is wrong for the subjunctive form were in conditions contrary to fact, in impossible or improbable conditions, and in wishes.
Correct: If I were you, I’d learn this.
Correct: If I lived for a million years, I’d probably lose my teeth.
Correct: If I climbed Mount Everest, I would bring food.
Correct: It is imperative that he do his homework daily.
Practice using the subjunctive:
- If I was able to eliminate all Saturday classes, I'm not sure I would.
- If Robbie was in charge of the world, music would come out of all sidewalk vents.
- I wouldn't recommend eating a handful of habanero peppers, even if you can.
- I wish my family and I have a million dollars.
- Harley and Justice insist that Cam thinks this proposal through.
Resources for further explanation of the correct use of the subjunctive:
English Page's Subjunctive
Oxford Living Dictionary's When to use the Subjunctive