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“If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct?
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Which one is correct: "If I were a cop, I would wear a uniform" OR "If I was a cop, I would wear a uniform"?

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marked as duplicate by Uticensis, JSBձոգչ, RegDwigнt Apr 9 '11 at 19:15

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

if I were

This we call the second conditional utilising the subjunctive form, which can be used to discuss hypothetical/unreal situations.

If I were a cop, I would wear a uniform implies that I am not a cop and so I don't wear a uniform.

if it was

This would be the beginning of a question about a past event, for example:

If it was raining, why did you go out? meaning that it rained and you went outside; the speaker is questioning your motives.

Hope that helps

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+1 Karl

But as to correctness, both are "correct".

There is also:

  • Were I a cop, I would wear a uniform.

I think "were I" sounds very elegant, especially the passive "Were I to be". I'd like to find opportunity to use this in speech and get away with it without it sounding forced.

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