The sentence

If I were you, I wouldn't do this

One can add emphasis to the sentence, by saying

Were I you, I wouldn't do this

However, I noticed that in everyday English people tend not to use the subjunctive mood, but standard Simple Past tense.

If I was you, I wouldn't do this.

So, is it possible to say

Was I you, I wouldn't do this?

It looks a little bit strange for me.

  • "If I were you"/"Were I you" (NOTE: Not "was") is correct. However, English speakers don't necessarily speak correctly. Subjunctive is a hard mood and you will hear the incorrect "was" a lot.
    – SAH
    Dec 9, 2015 at 21:50

3 Answers 3


If I was you, I wouldn't do this.

While many nuances of the subjunctive mood has now been abandoned, such as "If that's the house you were hoping to buy ...", I would suggest that If I was you ... is still irregular, and sounds odd, and many people would still use "were".

But whatever the state of subjunctive "were", if you do wish to invert it, then Were I you is the correct usage, if somewhat stilted.

  • Whoever downvoted this answer, I don't think this answer deserves a downvote.
    – user140086
    Dec 10, 2015 at 7:49

You are correct in your analysis: "Was I you, I wouldn't do this" is incorrect usage. One could certainly say it, but not without sounding very strange indeed, just as you noted.


No native English speaker would say

  • *Were I you, I wouldn't do this.
    nor would they say
  • *Was I you, I wouldn't do this.

That's because If I were you is a fixed phrase and doesn't vary.

  • If I were you, I wouldn't do this.
    but not
  • *If I was you, I wouldn't do this.
  • 1
    In British English, the results from corpus studies, surprisingly, didn't back that up as much as one would think they would have. "If I was you" is reasonably common in spoken English, it seems - at least in the UK. If you dig through here enough , you'll find enough good examples from books. I've got no idea what the situation is in American English though. (I'm pretty certain that the inversions are extremely rare, if not non-existent though) Dec 9, 2015 at 21:55

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