I have two sentences. In the first I used were. A friend of mine said that you can also use was, as there is no difference. In my opinion the first sentence sounds more correct but I am not sure why.

The dog jumped over the couch as if it were nothing.

The dog jumped over the couch as if it was nothing.

Do you know what the different meaning is between these two sentences?

  • Are you using "it" to refer to the couch, or to the jump?
    – Davo
    Jan 25, 2019 at 15:51
  • @Davo In this case I am referring to the couch.
    – xtarsy
    Jan 27, 2019 at 12:57

1 Answer 1


This is an area where English has been changing over the last fifty or a hundred years; and it is also a matter of the level of formality.

The sort of people who believe that there is only one "correct" English, and everything else is "incorrect", will tell you that it has to be "were" here, for a counter-factual conditional. Those people will look down on anybody who uses "was".

Many people always use "were" here; some use "were" in writing, but are as likely to use "was" in speech; some people always use "was".

If you don't want to be judged as "incorrect", use "were". If you are happy to speak English the way many (but certainly not all) use it, you can use "was".

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