Contemporary essays, fiction, and opinion offered regularly by author Anne Brandt.

Question for the week
Is there anything wrong with the following phrase? "It cost less to reuse boxes than to buy new ones."
Rules of the Games
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Valera from South Carolina asks...
Is the following sentence grammatically correct? I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached. If it is not correct, please explain why it should be weren't instead of wasn't.
Anne answers...
This has to do with subjective tense. And the answer is that your sentence is NOT correct. Instead, it should read: I'd lose my head if it weren't attached.

Why, you ask? Because subjective tense is used when you want to express a wish or a contrary-to-fact condition. In this case, it is a contrary-to-fact condition that your head is not attached to your body.Since it is, you need to use subjective tense. This, in turn, means you need to use the verb 'were.'
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