3

Which one is correct ? I were or I was

We always use I have which implies that I is plural.

Then why don't we use I are ?

2
  • 1
    How many of you are there? I don't understand why you would think that I is plural. Is your confusion about "have"? It would help if you explained your thinking a bit more.
    – ColleenV
    Dec 20, 2014 at 3:14
  • Either I was or I were could be correct. It is impossible to tell you which is correct based on the two words alone. Could you provide a sample sentence or two? Also, have can be an auxiliary verb or a 'regular' verb, so if you provide example sentences... that would make answering the question easier.
    – user6951
    Dec 20, 2014 at 7:52

2 Answers 2

7

I have does not imply that I is plural; it implies only that I is not 3rd person singular (3sg).

Be is the only English verb which has distinct forms for the 1st person singular (1sg): am in the present indicative and was in the past indicative.

All other English verbs, including HAVE, have

  • in the present, at most two forms, one for third person singular and a 'general' one for all other persons in either singular or plural
  • in the past, a single 'general' form for all persons and numbers

Here are the forms for BE, HAVE, and a representative 'regular' verb PLAY; forms for specific persons and numbers are marked with a * (but see the footnote).
VERB: BE HAVE PLAY PRESENT general form: are have play 1sg form: am* (same) (same) 3sg form: is* has* plays* PAST general form: were had played 1sg & 3sg form: was* (same) (same)

Modal verbs have only one; they do not have a distinct 3sg form
Note that even these are not used in what traditional grammar calls "subjunctive" clauses—but that is another matter.

2
  • 1
    Then why dont we use "I has" ?
    – Vinayak
    Dec 20, 2014 at 9:30
  • @Vinayak Because "I" is 1st person singular. Only 3d person singular takes has: subjects which are neither the person speaking nor the person addressed. He, she, it, William Wycherley, the Man in the Iron Mask. Dec 20, 2014 at 11:46
3

Unfortunately, English's conjugation system is not as fine-grained (that is, not as detailed) as many other languages. In particular, in general* the conjugations for first person (single and plural), second person (single and plural), and third person plural are all the same: I have, you have, we have, you all have, they have; I jump, you jump, we jump, you all jump, they jump. The one case that conjugates differently is third person singular: she has, he jumps.

*There are exceptions: for example "to be" conjugates differently in the first person singular: I am, you are, she is, we are, you all are, they are. But note that the second person singular and all the plural forms are still the same.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .