Date: Tue, 10 Oct 1995 09:28:35 -0500

From: "Kathleen M. O'Neill" koneil1[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UIC.EDU

Subject: Re: Delete that last message!

I have heard the phrase, "as it were," such as, "The ball was round, as it

were." The question I have, though, stems from the use of the plural

past tense "were." If it were to be "grammatically" correct, would that

not be "as it was"? Or is this a regional type of thing? Just a thought!



The entry in "A Dictionary of American Idioms" (2nd Ed., Adam Makkai,

ISBN 0-8120-3899-1) for AS IT WERE reads as follows:

"adv.phr. As it might be said to be; as if it really were; seemingly.

-Used with a statement that might seem silly or unreasonable, to show

that it is just a way of saying it. 'In many ways children live, as it

were, in a different world from adults.' (Children and adults seem to

live in different worlds, but it's just because their interests are so

different.) 'The sunlight on the icy branches made, as it were, delicate

lacy cobwebs from tree to tree.' (The ice on the trees seemed to be

lacy cobwebs.) Compare to SO TO SPEAK."

Hope that helps. Of course, you need to be aware that the "were" in that

phrase is _not_ the plural past tense "were," but a subjunctive "were."


;Kathleen M. O'Neill ... Language Laboratory Technician I ;



;University of Illinois at Chicago ... Language Laboratory ;

;703 South Morgan Street (M/C 042) ... Grant Hall, Room 311 ;

;Chicago, IL 60607-7025 ;

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