This is the sentence that I've been thinking:

I would have gone had they been ____

a) ignorant

b) ignorance

Notice that the writer (of the question) omitted the "if", so that he could revert they and had, means that the sentence is a conditional sentence.

So, between ignorant and ignorance which one is better? In this case I'm thinking about "I'd be happy", It has an identical structure with the question, is it correct if I choose b) since it's an adjective?

Sometimes, I'm confused with what I should put after "be". Like:

I want to be a doctor (a noun)

I want to be happy (an adjective)

What's the difference? How do i know? Hope you can make me understand.

  • 1
    'Ignorant' is the only one that makes sense. 'They' were, or were not, ignorant of something. You can't say 'They were ignorance' any more than you can say 'I want to be happiness.' May 16, 2021 at 7:14
  • This might help: ell.stackexchange.com/a/87989 May 16, 2021 at 7:52
  • << I would have gone had they been ____ >> means << I would have gone if they had been ____ >. << ... if they had been ignorance / gangster / happiness >> ? Of course not. << ... if they had been ignorant / thuggish / happy >> ? Yes, adjectives work. << ... if they had been gangsters / happy people >> ? Yes, plural count-noun usages work. May 16, 2021 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


“They had been ignorance” would not make sense since ignorance is not an adjective. Ignorant can describe “them”, therefore it is the correct form.

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