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If I were/was
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Jizzer
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BeitragVerfasst am: 23 Okt 2009 - 13:56:38    Titel: If I were/was

Hey everybody,

I'd like to know when to use either of the following constructions, paying no attention to slang and so forth for now:

If I were...

If I was...

thanks in advance
Zwanglos
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BeitragVerfasst am: 23 Okt 2009 - 16:22:49    Titel:

Many people here tend to automatically flip out if you try to use 'if I was' in a sentence, but it does actually have its uses.

"If I were" is used in the subjunctive, i.e. hypothetical situations:

"I would only drink that much vodka if I were in Russia." [I'm not in Russia.]

"If I was" comes more into play when disputing events in the past.

"If I was rude, I apologize." [I might have been rude, I might not have been, I don't know]
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BeitragVerfasst am: 23 Okt 2009 - 21:58:57    Titel:

Thank you, but can you think of still more application examples ?
Zwanglos
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BeitragVerfasst am: 24 Okt 2009 - 05:42:48    Titel:

Hypothetical/Subjunctive: If I were

I wouldn't do that if I were you. [I'm not you.]
If I were to select one of those dresses to buy, I'd go with the blue one. [I'm not interested in buying dresses right now.]
If he were to find out what we've been doing behind his back, he'd get very angry. [He hasn't yet found out what we've been doing.]
If I were a teapot, short and stout... [I'm not a teapot]
If I were better at math I might have done well on that test. [I'm terrible at math.]
If I were a millionaire, I'd immediately put half of that sum away in a savings account. [I am not a millionaire.]

Disputing the past: If I was

I'm sorry if I was a little unclear just now. [I might have just been a little unclear.]
If he was being too hyperactive this morning, it's probably because he had too much caffeine at breakfast.
If he was acting so tired, then why did you insist he come out to dinner with us?

Note: with 'you', the simple past conjugation is 'were' anyway...

If you were acting stupid last night, it's because you had too much to drink.


Note the difference:
If I were a faster runner, I would have beaten him in that race.
If I was running faster than him, it's obviously because I'm more in shape.


Note that in colloquial English (or at least many American dialects), you will very often hear 'If I was' even in hypothetical situations (I used to be guilty of that myself, actually, and was convinced it was the norm). This is generally considered incorrect, but happens a lot anyway. Many people seem to say that the subjunctive mood is slowly dying out of colloquial English, perhaps much like the Genetiv is slowly disappearing from spoken German.
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BeitragVerfasst am: 24 Okt 2009 - 20:20:21    Titel:

If I were to respond: Me love you long time!!
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