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Now I'm having hard time on something.

I ate something yesterday and it was cold. Now grammatically, it must be

If it was not cold, I would like it more.

But I feel like it does not sound right, just because of 'like'. Is this correct?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are two other ways of saying what you want said. The first point to consider, however, is that you ate whatever IT was yesterday, so your sentence has to be in the past tense.

If it had not been cold, I would have liked it more. [This is educated English.]

Had it not been cold, I would have liked it more. [This is formal English. Not generally used when speaking because it's normally too formal, but if you're speaking to someone wearing a tuxedo or a morning coat, it's perfectly appropriate. It's also appropriate for formal writing, but I doubt that there are many contexts in which such formality is called for.]

Your feeling that your sentence is grammatically incorrect because of like is a proper feeling, because like should be liked.

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what about the first part? What is the difference between,'if it were not cold' vs 'if it had not been cold' – Emmet B Feb 16 '13 at 15:35
'If it were not cold' is present subjunctive & describes an unreal condition at the moment: It is cold, so I don't like it now. 'If it had not been cold' is past subjunctive & describes an unreal condition in the past (yesterday): It was cold, so id didn't like it. This is what, it seems to me, your sentence wants to say, that you would have liked it better yesterday had it not been so cold. – user21497 Feb 16 '13 at 15:47
@Barrie: It's one of those damned numbered conditionals that I never learned but have been calling a "subjunctive" all my life because that's what I was taught unreal conditions were: subjunctive mood. I know I promised not to use that word again, but I don't know what 1st, 2nd, & 3rd conditionals correspond to. Sorry about the terminological problem. But, to be perfectly native-speakerish about it, you know what I mean. :-) – user21497 Feb 16 '13 at 16:06
Comment edited. Here it is again.There must be a transatlantic difference here. If it had not been cold is, to me, simply the past tense of have, followed by been, followed by the past participle of the main verb. The construction is no different from the first clause in It had not been cold that week, so we had been able to go out a little. Where’s the subjunctive? – Barrie England Feb 16 '13 at 16:07
@Barrie: "It had not been cold that week" and "If it had not been cold (that week)" are not at all the same. One is a description of reality and the other is an unreal past conditional (It was cold that week) with a Scarlet Number (1, 2, or 3, signifying whatever) hanging on its Hester Prynne-like robin redbreast. Well, there you go: 3rd conditional, a vacuous piece of nomenclature if ever I've seen one. Tells me nothing about unreal past condition. Terminology explains nothing. – user21497 Feb 16 '13 at 16:13

I believe this is a question of subjunctive verb moods. When deciding to use 'were' vs. 'was' (verb for 'to be') you need to think about the mood you're trying to communicate. In your example, you're talking about something that isn't true in a wishful tone: the food was too cold for your liking, ie. you wish it had been warmer.

Therefore 'were' is the correct subjunctive because were is used to communicate a wish for something.

"I wish I were more perceptive."

Same thing applies to your case.

"If it weren't so cold, I'd like it more."

is the correct way to phrase it.

You use 'was' when talking about something certain, factual, or likely.

"I was sick last week"

"Bill was going to come over, but he couldn't make it."

You can also rephrase your sentence to use 'was' - can you see why, in this example, 'was' is correct? (hint: 'was' = factual, ie. something that has happened already)

"The dish was cold, so I didn't like it"

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what about second part, should not it be ' If it were not cold, I would have liked it more'? – Emmet B Feb 16 '13 at 15:38
@EmmetB It depends on when you say it. Yesterday, at the time when you were eating it, you said: "If it weren't so cold I'd like it more." Today, looking back, you say "If it hadn't been so cold I'd have liked it more." (In both cases, I'd = I would). – StoneyB Feb 16 '13 at 15:52
thanks Stoney that clarified a lot. – Emmet B Feb 16 '13 at 15:54

It doesn’t sound right because if it is something that you are experiencing in the present, something you are eating right now, then it should be more like this:

  • If it weren’t so cold, I’d like it more. (spoken)
  • If it were not so cold, I would like it more. (uncontracted)

Whereas if it is something that has already occurred, something that we ate yesterday or last week or whatnot, then it should be more like this:

  • If it hadn’t been so cold, I’d’ve liked it more. (spoken)
  • If it had not been so cold, I would have liked it more. (uncontracted)
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@TimLymington Thanks; I read too quickly; fixed. – tchrist Feb 16 '13 at 15:56

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