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“If I was” or “If I were”. Which is more common, and which is correct?
Which is correct: “what if there was” or “what if there were”?

Which of following sentences is formed properly? Why?

Although Reza has a successful career as a lawyer, he still wishes he was a rock musician.

or

Although Reza has a successful career as a lawyer, he still wishes he were a rock musician.

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marked as duplicate by Barrie England, JSBձոգչ, kiamlaluno, RegDwigнt Oct 18 '12 at 18:43

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
This has been covered elsewhere, so I'm voting to close. –  Barrie England Oct 18 '12 at 17:36
1  
@BarrieEngland Actually, Barrie, I don't find them the same. The question is whether wish still takes a verb in the past subjunctive. This is rather different from asking about a hypothetical if clause, don't you think? –  tchrist Oct 18 '12 at 17:40
    
This is the one that should not have been closed to the "what if" question, because that isn't what these are. However, also related are: english.stackexchange.com/q/21204/2085 english.stackexchange.com/q/63121/2085 english.stackexchange.com/q/37536/2085 english.stackexchange.com/q/60200/2085 and probably many more. So ok, it is probably a dupe, but just not of the one that Barrie listed it as a dupe of. –  tchrist Oct 18 '12 at 17:48
    
@tchrist: OK. It's just that whenever I see anything about wish and were my eyes glaze over, and I want to direct the question elsewhere as soon as possible. –  Barrie England Oct 18 '12 at 18:34
    
@kiamlaluno No, that is the wrong dupe. That is the if-subjunctive, not the wish-subjunctive. –  tchrist Oct 18 '12 at 18:38

1 Answer 1

I would use were, because wish is one of those very rare verbs that still takes the subjunctive mood for most speakers. This was a big deal when once upon a time the original Oscar Meyer weiner song came out with the lyrics

Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer weiner,
that is what I'd truly like to be,
'cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner,
everyone would be in love with me!

And there was a big write-in campaign to make them "fix" to its current rendering:

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer weiner,
that is what I'd truly like to be,
'cause if I were an Oscar Mayer weiner,
everyone would be in love with me!

Wish is a pretty common verb in English, and it takes past subjunctive for those who still maintain that distinction for the hypothetical, contrary-to-reality case.

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No one maintains the distinction for persons other than the first and third singular. –  Barrie England Oct 18 '12 at 20:07
1  
One must admit that the internal rhyme of the first line makes the "fix" much more catchy, regardless of its grammatical status. –  Zairja Oct 18 '12 at 20:07

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