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I'd like to know whether "was" should be treated as a subjunctive in the following:

a. If there were a 20-story office building without an elevator, those whose office was on the 18th floor would climb many steps each day.

b. If there were someone who was able to speak over 500 languages at native levels, he would be considered a genius of some sort.

Here was is used to describe hypothetical situations and is considered correct even in Standard American English

I'd appreciate your help

12
  • Didn't you ask the same question not long ago
    – BillJ
    Jan 5, 2019 at 12:49
  • No one really addressed, or rather solved, the core of the question.
    – Apollyon
    Jan 5, 2019 at 13:22
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    The subjunctive form is directly controlled by the irrealis marker (if or inversion); it’s not just ‘anything that describes a hypothetical situation’. Only the verb controlled by the irrealis marker is in the subjunctive, not any subsequent verbs in subsequent clauses. Jan 5, 2019 at 14:18
  • What do you mean by "directly controlled"?
    – Apollyon
    Jan 5, 2019 at 14:21
  • If "was" is not subjunctive, why wasn't "is" used instead?
    – Apollyon
    Jan 5, 2019 at 14:33

1 Answer 1

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In a comment, Janus Bahs Jacquet wrote:

The subjunctive form is directly controlled by the irrealis marker (if or inversion); it’s not just ‘anything that describes a hypothetical situation’. Only the verb controlled by the irrealis marker is in the subjunctive, not any subsequent verbs in subsequent clauses.

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