I - plural or singular?

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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 ?

Vinayak

Posted 2014-12-20T02:58:31.503

Reputation: 295

1How 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 – 2014-12-20T03:14:06.690

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. – None – 2014-12-20T07:52:29.397

Answers

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.

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2014-12-20T02:58:31.503

Reputation: 176 469

1Then why dont we use "I has" ? – Vinayak – 2014-12-20T09:30:02.107

@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. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2014-12-20T11:46:56.930

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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.

user13673

Posted 2014-12-20T02:58:31.503

Reputation: 226