Is it grammatically correct to use an indicative verb after “as if”, or “as though” for that matter?
I’ve heard someone say: “He walks as if he is drunk.” Would there have been any difference if he had said “He walks as if he were drunk.”?
A second example might be:
- It looks as if it is going to rain.
- It looks as if it were going to rain.
‘Melanie’ explains this usage of ‘as if’:
As if [can be] a [subordinating] conjunction. It is used to say how something seems from the information known. It is a more formal way of saying
like, and is used in the same way as as though.
In … the following sentences and examples, as if can be
replaced with as though and like (in informal conversation).
It was great to see Luke again. It sounds as if he’s doing well in
My friend is under a lot of pressure at the moment. She feels as if
she has the weight of the world on her shoulders.
These examples use the indicative.
Although English Grammar Forum gives both the indicative and the subjunctive as grammatical options:
It looks as if it’s going to rain.
It feels as if it were going to rain.
the subjunctive sounds rather dated, high-falutin – even faintly ridiculous to my ears. The ‘as if’ conveys the sense of uncertainty perfectly adequately.
The situation with bare ‘if’ is not the same, where ‘if he were drunk’ and ‘if he was drunk’ usefully disambiguate.