Wednesday, February 10, 2016


“Twere is a contraction of a form of the verb to be. In full, it is written as it were, a subjunctive form. I bring it up because it is used in a scene in the Coen Brothers’ movie, Hail, Caesar.

In that scene, a movie director becomes increasingly frustrated by an actor’s inability to say a simple line: “would that it ‘twere so simple.” The actor has a history of playing westerns, but he has been thrust unwillingly into a British drawing-room drama, where he obviously is out of place.

The problem is that ‘twere already contains the pronoun it as a contraction. So the line literally reads, “would that it it were so simple.” A double it? That’s redundancy.

Listen to Mike’s program in real time every Tuesday morning, 9:10 - 10:00 a.m. EST, by going to and clicking on Listen Now. You’ll also find about a month’s worth of podcasts there under The Ron Jolly Show.


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