A fuller example of my problem is in the following excerpts from a little thought I'm trying to jot down. I like the way it reads; but then again... any help would be appreciated.

"I'd like to believe that were I a woman and not a man, I'd have(...)


"To allow the crooked and foolish to go unabated could very well put my own self in danger, were I a woman."

If anybody's interested I wouldn't mind posting the entire thought for grammatical as well as creative criticism.

Thanks in advanced for anybody's input.

  • Yes. It is exactly what I, a native speaker, would say. I tend to think of it as the English subjunctive. But there are people on this site, far more learned in linguistics than I am, who will argue that there is no such thing as a subjunctive in English.
    – WS2
    Aug 13, 2017 at 8:35
  • I don't think that one could claim that phrases such as "If I were rich" is at all archaic. "Were I rich" is a slightly hoity-toitier version of the phrase, and in your first rendering it sounds a hair awkward. But the second rendering is spot-on, and to be recommended.
    – Hot Licks
    Aug 13, 2017 at 12:16
  • The second sentence seems to lack enough peculiarity to, or dependency on, the unreal condition that follows. For me, my own self refers to the real me and preempts the if I were a woman bit. There isn't an obvious fix to this.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 13, 2017 at 12:52
  • "To allow the crooked and foolish to go unabated could very well, were I a woman, [serve to] put my own self in danger" is the best I can manage before coffee. It's still a bit of an ordeal to parse.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 13, 2017 at 13:10

1 Answer 1


Yes,it is right. It is a variety of what is called the second conditional used to refer to the future condition. The normal structure starts with "if I were too...". However, the inverted structure is more formal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.