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An ESL student told me she was taught never to use the subjunctive with verbs of sense (touch, taste, feel, etc.). So, compare the following sentences:

  1. She behaves as though she were the boss.

  2. I feel as though my hair were straw.

In the second example, my student was taught to use was instead of were because of the verb feel.

I have not encountered this “rule” before, so I am unsure whether it is correct or perhaps just a regional usage. Does anyone know whether this is a rule or not?

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An ESL student told me she was taught never to use the subjunctive with verbs of sense (touch, taste, feel, etc.). So, compare the following sentences:

She behaves as though she were the boss.

I feel as though my hair were straw.

The use of the subjunctive is correct, but it has nothing to do with the verb.

The subjunctive is used because of "as though", which creates irrealis: she is not the boss and your hair is not straw.

Compare

He runs as if he were terrified. It is as though something were chasing him.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on English Language & Usage Meta, or in English Language & Usage Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – tchrist
    Dec 9, 2023 at 23:45
  • Thank you @greybeard for your response. To clarify, my understanding of "as though" is the same as yours; however, this student was taught that a verb of sense requires the indicative mood rather than the subjunctive. I am trying to find out whether that is a legitimate rule or not. Dec 11, 2023 at 21:39
  • I feel (a verb of sense) is in the indicative, but "my hair were (a verb of state) straw" is the subjunctive as "my hair" is not straw: it only feels that way.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 12, 2023 at 0:13

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