She stared at me suspiciously, as if (she were) searching for wrinkles in a shirt.

Why or why not?

  • I think omitting it is even better. Oct 5 '15 at 11:23
  • I'd also omit the comma.
    – Maulik V
    Oct 5 '15 at 12:05

As if can be complemented by a participle phrase, present or past, or a prepositional phrase, in which case you can omit the subject and the "were" because an implicit subject is understood to be the one in the main clause and the complement functions like a predicate complement:

She stared at me...

as if (she were) searching for wrinkles in a shirt

as if (she were) stunned

as if (she were) in pain

Or it can be complemented by a phrase with a tensed verb:

as if she had seen something strange

as if she had swallowed a fly

as if she knew me

in which case the subject cannot be dropped:

*as if ... had seen something strange [not ok]

*as if ... had swallowed a fly [not ok]

*as if ... knew me [not ok]

If the complement can be construed adjectivally, modifying the subject in the main clause (what she's doing, the state she's in, how she appears), then the subject does not have to be stated.

If the complement is a finite action, then the subject must be stated along with tensed element of the verb.

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