Can we use WAS in conditional sentences? For example, ‘If I was faster, I would have won the race.’
I think only WERE is correct: If I were faster, I would have won the race.
‘If I were…’ and ‘If I was…’ are both correct forms to use when referring to a hypothetical situation. (Second Conditional/ Unreal Present)
The use of ‘were’ is considered more formal. This form is called the ‘Past Subjunctive’ and is often used after:
- as if
- If Superman were here, he could help you.
- He speaks to me as if he were the President.
- I wish Jack were more reliable.
However, ‘I/he/she/it was’ is also an accepted form and is used in informal conversation:
- If Superman was here, he could help you.
- He speaks to me as if he was the President.
- I wish Jack was more reliable.
The only time we don’t normally use ‘was’ is in the fixed expression ‘If I were you’:
- If I were you, I’d look up Subjunctive in English Grammar in Use.
Do you know the song ‘If I were a rich man’ from the musical Fiddler on the Roof?
How about Gwen Stefani’s ‘If I was a rich girl’?
Two perfect examples to illustrate the difference!
To learn more about conditionals, have a look at this blog posts of ours: