I've used in the past sentences of the type

Were hypothesis to be result, then action


Were this question to be answered, I'd be very happy

However, I have no clue as to how to refer to this kind of structure/tense/voice. From a quick research, I think it's a subjunctive voice, and some kind of future tense? And I think the first part is in passive voice?
[Edit] @FumbleFingers has pointed out it's not a future tense, but a conditional, hypothetical one.

I can't seem to find my way through Google, so any help would be appreciated.
[Edit] the purpose of this question is to point a colleague who corrected me from "were" to "where" (both of us are native Spanish speakers) to something for them to have as reference.

  • 1
    It's "conditional, hypothetical", not "future" (that would be If this question is answered, I will be very happy). Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 16:01

1 Answer 1


That is an example of the irrealis mood, of which there are quite a number of 'subtypes.' The main idea is that you are indicating, via the conjugation of the verbs you are using, that the idea you are expressing is not necessarily something that is real.

(There is, as you have pointed out, a nested passive phrase, i.e., "to be answered", but that can be swapped out without substantially changing the meaning of your example or this question.)

  • Is the example subjunctive or conditional, or is there no difference?
    – AmI
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 20:03
  • Both? "were this question" (subjunctive)... "i would" (conditional)
    – Carly
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 20:16
  • Yup -- two irrealis moods in the sentence.
    – AmI
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 20:26

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