"No, no, " he scolded. If I was you. I is singular. "
"Yes, but I am not you, " I said. "It is contrary to fact, so you use the subjunctive mood."
"The what?" he asked.
The almost-obsolete subjunctive mood (SM) lurks in our language and careful writers respect it. Please notice, we call it a mood; it is not a tense or voice, such as active or passive.
You don't need to memorize this, but English has three moods: indicative, imperative, and subjunctive. The indicative mood makes statements and questions; the imperative mood commands or requests; the SM expresses wishes, desires, requirements, or conditions.
Simple? Clear? Most people aren't aware of their using the subjunctive mood. We've all heard people say (and it's correct):
· Whether it be
· Far be it from me
· As it were.
The following sentences use the subjunctive mood correctly.
· If she were rich, would she be kind?
· The defense attorney asks that he testify [not testifies] Monday.
· Unless the weather were to change, we'll have our annual picnic tomorrow.
· He yelled as if the house were on fire.
Here's a hint to help you with the subjunctive mood:
If the clause begins with as if or as though,
you usually need the subjunctive mood.