Leo DiCaprio pretended he was a doctor or “he were” a doctor?

Hi literary community!

I’m writing a book and I’m stuck on this part of a sentence:

Leo DiCaprio pretended he was a doctor..


Leo DiCaprio pretended he were a doctor?

I know that we are supposed to use “were” if used in hypothetical, but in this case it’s all tricky to me. He wasn’t a doctor, didn’t study for one, but he was in fact, according to the movie Catch Me if You Can, performing duties of a doctor in one scene.

Please advise.


The subjunctive is slowly disappearing from use and it isn’t used with pretend here.

Leonardo DiCaprio pretended [that] he was a doctor.

or, terser and better,

He pretended to be a doctor.

He was pretending that he was a doctor, not wondering whether he could or would be or were one. That he performed the duties of a doctor is entirely irrelevant.

Source : Link , Question Author : Simon S , Answer Author : lly

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