If I Was or If I Were?


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.

how to - looking into details

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:

  • if
  • as if
  • wish
  • 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 manfrom 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:

How Good Are Your Conditionals? 5 Conditionals with IF and WHEN
WAS WERE Usage With Examples
How To Use The Passive Voice With Helpful Examples

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