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    #1

    When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    I'm a little confused about this. I've heard a lot of people say stuffs like "If I were you, I wouldn't do it". But I have also heard some say "If I wasn't there, who do you think was there?"

    So these two types of statements actually got me confused.

    Since its correct to use "WAS" after I, why & when do some people use "WERE" after I?

    Thanks in advance

  1. fighting spirit's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    Both are correct, but it is advisable to use WERE in the first person singular instead of WAS

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    #3

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    Quote Originally Posted by I'm still learning View Post
    I'm a little confused about this. I've heard a lot of people say stuffs like "If I were you, I wouldn't do it". But I have also heard some say "If I wasn't there, who do you think was there?"

    So these two types of statements actually got me confused.

    Since its correct to use "WAS" after I, why & when do some people use "WERE" after I?

    Thanks in advance
    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****

    Good morning.

    (1) You have asked an excellent question. It can be confusing even for native speakers.

    (2) "Perfect" English: If I WERE you (I am NOT you), I WOULD not do it.


    (a) "Good" conversational English: If I WAS you (I am NOT you), I WOULD not do it.

    When we are talking about something that is not real (only in our minds), we use IF I WERE in perfect English. Many native speakers, however, just say IF I WAS.

    ***

    To explain your second sentence (If I wasn't there, who do you think was there?) is difficult because you did not tell us how it was used.

    Basically, I WERE = Not a real situation; only an idea; a wish (If I were the president, I would ....)

    Basically, I WAS = a real situation that really, truly happened.

    (a) If I WAS rude to you yesterday (maybe I was), I now apologize to you.

    (b) If I was late yesterday (I WAS ), it was due to heavy traffic. So why are you still angry with me today? It wasn't my fault.

    (c) Your sentence maybe (maybe!!!) means something like: If I wasn't there (but I WAS), then who do you think WAS there? My twin brother???!!! Why don't you buy some eyeglasses!

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    #4

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    The Parser @:

    Thanks a lot for such a great explanation with some fine examples.

    You completely cleared away my confusion..

    LOOOOL@ "Why don't you buy some eyeglasses!"

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    #5

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    Quote Originally Posted by I'm still learning View Post
    The Parser @:

    Thanks a lot for such a great explanation with some fine examples.

    You completely cleared away my confusion..

    LOOOOL@ "Why don't you buy some eyeglasses!"
    Thank you for your kind note.

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    Note that FS was answering a question you hadn't asked.
    Quote Originally Posted by fighting spirit View Post
    Both are correct, but it is advisable to use WERE in the first person singular instead of WAS
    When talking about unreal conditions, it's true that people use either; some (prescriptive) grammarians say 'were' must always denote an unreal condition, and some (descriptive) linguists insist (with great zeal) that to say 'was' is wrong is ... wrong. So, in different registers both 'If I were a carpenter...' and 'If I was a carpenter...' are acceptable (though the second is not recommended for use in exams!)

    However, in your example, the simple past is right - you were there (that is, you might reasonably have said 'I was there').

    Returning to the unreal case (where 'were' would be regarded by some as 'correct'), the phrase 'If I were you...' (inherited from a time when prescriptive grammarians were a lot more influential than they are now) is such a strong collocation that even people who habitually say 'if I was...' for unreal conditions, tend to say 'were'.

    b

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    #7

    Re: When to use "If I were" & "If I was"????

    Thanks for all these useful answers

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