What kind of sentence structure is , "Would that be, If I were a rich man ! "

Isn't it incorrect English?

What kind of sentence is it, that is deemed valid to begin with, Would that be


why not put I was instead of I were.

  • 3
    It could be valid English in the right context, but I think it more likely to be mistaken or mistranscribed. What's the context? Where did you find it? Are you sure it isn't Would that I were a rich man? Jan 10, 2019 at 10:09
  • I'm thinking that you might have meant "That would be if I was a rich man"
    – Puffy
    Jan 10, 2019 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


"If I were", historically, has been considered the correct phrasing; "if I was" is sometimes regarded as an error when used with the subjunctive mood. See this English Language and Usage answer for lots more details.

"Would that be [...]!", on the other hand, is very unusual. With a question mark instead of an exclamation mark, it would merely be archaic, and the whole thing would mean something along the lines of "is that really what would happen, if I were a rich man?". As written, however, I'm inclined to agree with StoneyB's comment: it looks like a sentence fragment, rather than a full sentence, which could be a stylistic choice, a mistake, or a transcription error.

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