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Because I am still in New Haven, I would prefer [it] if the meeting [would be/was] postponed.

What is the correct way of saying this? I am curious as to with or without it, and would be versus was?

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"I would prefer it if the meeting were postponed." Here's where you need the subjunctive mood to express a hoped-for or hypothetical outcome. More here if you need it.

If you want to delete "it," then you have to revise slightly: "I would prefer that the meeting be postponed."

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    To make sure I understood it: would the following be correct use of the subjunctive? "I would prefer that the meeting take place without me." – ste12 Apr 27 '11 at 16:05
  • Bingo. Same as in "b" in the second example above. – The Raven Apr 27 '11 at 16:29
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The traditionally super-formal standard usage is one you left out, "I would prefer if the meeting were postponed." Were is the singular past subjunctive.

Almost no one uses this in contemporary US spoken English, and it's probably dying out of writing. More contemporary usage is still past subjunctive, which has come to be identical to past indicative: "I would prefer if the meeting was postponed." The conditional, would be, isn't standard in an if-clause.

Cf: The meeting would be postponed if he arrived late, but he isn't arriving late so it will go on as scheduled.

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    In recent studies of the matter, the consensus is that the subjunctive is alive and well. – The Raven Apr 29 '11 at 2:02
  • Hmm, interesting. Who's studied this and reached this conclusion? – CynicallyNaive May 6 '11 at 23:02
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You have two good answer already, both technically sound, but here is how I would phrase it.

I would prefer to postpone the meeting because I am still in New Haven.

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