How to change Conditional sentence of Present unreal into reported speech. I have an example :

“If the weather is fine, I will go on a picnic with my friends,” she said. As I read the answer key, the answer is :

She said that if the weather was fine, she would go on a picnic with her friends.

I am confusing. Why we don’t use “ were “ in this case.

In addition, in my textbook, there is an example as below:

“If I were you, I wouldn’t buy that coat,” she said.

The answer is :

She said that if she were me she wouldn’t buy that coat. In this case, “ were” is used for “she”. Meanwhile, for the first example, “was” is used for ” the weather “.

Both “the weather” and “she” are singular noun but in the second example, why “were” is used for “she” ???

If we change conditional sentence of present real into reported speech, "to be" will used : "was" for singular noun and "were" for plural noun. For changing conditional sentence of present unreal into reported speech, "to be" will be used :"were" for all subjects ( both singular and plural nouns). Is it correct ?

I hope to receive help. Thanks a lot.

2 Answers 2


Were in If I were you isn't the plural but the subjunctive. We use the subjunctive when talking about something that couldn't possibly happen, or is very unlikely to. (There's a famous song If I were a rich man.) 'I' can't become another person, except in my imagination..

The first sentence is talking about the chance of the weather being fine on a certain day. If they're planning a picnic, presumably there is a good chance of it, so is and was can be used.


Many grammar book exercises treat changing to reported speech as if it is a grammatical transformation. Real grammar transformations include changing the tense of a verb, or changing from active to passive voice.

You can sometimes treat the change to reported speech in a mechanical way, but you should be aware that this sometimes produces unnaturally complex expressions. When you report speech, you are reporting on the meaning of what was said, not the particular words used.

Now "was" and "were" in "If the weather was fine". would both be acceptable. Using "were" is a type of subjunctive, and is optional in English.

The fixed expression "If I were you" already uses "were", which justifies the use of "were" in reported speech.

However the example 2 is poor. The reported speech is too complex and doesn't clearly communicate the meaning of what she said. Instead I'd suggest something like

She recommended not buying the coat.

The meaning of "If I were you" is to make a recommendation. This report of speech communicates the meaning of what she said, even though the words are very different.

You must log in to answer this question.