If A is B, C is D


I saw this sentence in a song,


"If life is a road, and then she is my ride.", but I have learned that"If life were a road, and then she would be my ride." is grammatically more correct or the structure of the first sentence is okay to use in daily conversations?


Thank you so much as usual and have a good day.

edited Sep 29 '12 at 10:23 Hans Contributor

This is a matter of casual, informal vernacular (the song) as opposed to correct, formal English (your correction). One hears the former in casual conversation all the time among native speakers. In song lyrics, the lyricist is trying to manipulate tone, voice, grammar, syllabic count, rhyme, and diction for a particular effect; so be cautious in using songs as a guide for English grammar rules. :-)

d.s.koellingSep 29 '12 at 18:24

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3 answers


Both sentences are conditional sentences, but of different types.


"If life is a road, and then she is my ride" is the present action variation of the Type I conditional. The if clause uses a simple present verb, and the result clause also uses the simple present. Type I conditionals are used to express that the if clause is possible and also very likely that the condition will be fulfilled. As a matter of pure grammar, this sentence is correct.


"If life were a road, and then she would be my ride." First, we need to make a correction. Life, here, is a singular noun, so --> "If life was a road, and then she would be my ride." This is called a Type II conditional sentence. The if clause uses a simple past tense verb, and the result clause uses would + infinitive verb. Type II conditionals are used to express that it is possible but very unlikely that the condition will be fulfilled. Again, strictly from pure grammar, this sentence is correct.


From a purely logical standpoint, the first sentence cannot be correct. A person cannot be an actual ride. So it is not physically possible for the result clause to be fulfilled. But!


The author is not writing of physical reality. The author is using metaphor to describe his relationship. In this case, the result clause is likely to be fulfilled and the first sentence is correct.


You must understand, the first and second sentences do not have the same meaning. The second sentence carries the opposite meaning of the first. #1 = result clause is likely. #2 = result clause is unlikely.


Conclusion:  "If life is a road, and then she is my ride." is correct. The second sentence cannot replace the first.

link answered Sep 29 '12 at 14:19 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

I am really sorry about the wrong example. There is no "and" in the sentence. Anyhow, you understood my point and you mean "If life is a road, then she is my ride." can be correct? Thank you both!!

HansSep 29 '12 at 14:53

You're welcome. By the way, there is a thing called "poetic licence". This "licence" gives an artist, poet, etc., the "right" to completely ignore all the rules of grammar, spelling, usage, etc., and write exactly what they want, how they want. Song lyrics are a good practical example of such "licence".

Peter GuessSep 29 '12 at 18:37

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Also, you should be careful when quoting not to add words that are not in the original.


"If life is a road, then she is my ride."

link comment answered Sep 29 '12 at 14:38 Peter Guess Expert

In type II conditional sentence, which is an imaginary sentence, were can be used according to some books.

If life were a road ....

link answered Sep 29 '12 at 15:28 Z. A. Jazley Expert

Yes, "were" can be used in a Type II conditional. But "life" is singular and "were" is a plural verb. He was, they were. Afterall, you don't say"life are," you say "life is." So no, you cannot say "If life were a road ..."

Jeff PribylSep 29 '12 at 15:47

Isn't this the present subjunctive?"If I were a rich man, . . .""If I were you, . . .""If life were a road, . . ."

Peter GuessSep 29 '12 at 18:15

Yes, but I've stayed away from describing this usage for two reasons. (1) It is likely to confuse new ESL students such as HsKyH7, and (2) when used in if clauses, the present subjunctive tends to sound old-fashioned or unnecessarily formal -- that is the sense that Sheldon Harnick was trying to achieve with his lyrics. "If I were you..." might be considered a fixed expression.

Jeff PribylSep 30 '12 at 01:32

It is certainly true that tenses can be confusing for ESL learners, especially if they have far fewer in there own language. Here in Poland, for instance, the native language has only three. Students start learning about tenses almost immediately (age 7) and the subjunctive is introduced at age 12 or13.

I agree that "If I were you, . . ." could be considered a fixed expression and its users (most native English speakers) may or not be aware of why it is correct. It might be considered "formal" in the sense of "correct", but certainly not old-fashioned enough not to be required for academic writing.

Sandy81Sep 30 '12 at 14:08

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