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

Which one is the correct form: "Wish I was here" or "wish I were here"? I've heard both of them many times but I don't know which one is correct.

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    'Wish I were here' makes no logical sense. Do you mean you have heard "wish you were here"? Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:06
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    @RoaringFish: It does make sense. Dickens: "I wish I were going myself," said Charles Darnay, somewhat restlessly, and like one thinking aloud. Shakespeare: Sirrah, if thy captain knew I were here he would use me with estimation. George Eliot: "I wish I were like you." Emily Dickinson: I wish I were the hay! Charlotte Bronte: I wish I were in a quiet island with only you Bram Stoker: I wish I were safe out of it
    – Hugo
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:22
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    @Hugo~ think! If you wish you were here (and none of your examples say that...), then where are you? You can't be 'here' because then it would be real and not a wish. If you are not 'here', you don't exist... Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 13:26
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    @RoaringFish Yes, but that's not a grammatical problem: the usage is not incorrect. At best, it's absurd.
    – MetaEd
    Commented Sep 5, 2012 at 15:29
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    This is not the same question, and should not have been closed. Whether the verb wish governs the past subjunctive is utterly different from whether the conjunction if governs the subjunctive, be it past or present. These are not at all the same thing.
    – tchrist
    Commented Oct 18, 2012 at 17:44

3 Answers 3


According to OALD, both forms are correct:

I wish I were taller.

I wish I was taller.


The second example uses the subjunctive mood. I consider it more correct, but that is merely my opinion.

See usage at subjunctive in Oxford English Dictionary:

... if I were you; the report recommends that he face the tribunal; it is important that they be aware of the provisions of the act. These examples all contain a verb in the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is used to express situations that are hypothetical or not yet realized and is typically used for what is imagined, hoped for, demanded, or expected. In English, the subjunctive mood is fairly uncommon (especially in comparison with other languages, such as Spanish), mainly because most of the functions of the subjunctive are covered by modal verbs such as might, could, and should. In fact, in English, the subjunctive is often indistinguishable from the ordinary indicative mood since its form in most contexts is identical. It is distinctive only in the third person singular, where the normal indicative -s ending is absent ( he face rather than he faces in the example above), and in the verb ‘to be’ ( I were rather than I was, and they be rather than they are in the examples above). In modern English, the subjunctive mood still exists but is regarded in many contexts as optional. Use of the subjunctive tends to convey a more formal tone, but there are few people who would regard its absence as actually wrong. Today, it survives mostly in fixed expressions, as in be that as it may; far be it from me; as it were; lest we forget; God help you; perish the thought; and come what may.


When you express a wish, it is recommended that you use the subjunctive mood. So, the sentence,

"I wish I were here" is grammatically more correct.

That said, "I wish I was here" would be acceptable because it's now acceptable to use "was" to talk about wishes.

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