if I were or if I was

I love when pop songs get it right. Beyoncé’s “If I Were a Boy” is a great tool to help you remember when to use “if I were” instead of “if I was.”

The grammar rule invoked here has to do with subjunctives, hypotheticals and a bunch of other big words. So when a mentor gave me this easy tip, it was a total Aha! moment for me. Use “if I were” to preface something that’s pretty much impossible. Another easy way to remember it is the expression “if I were you” — I can’t actually be you, so “were” is correct. Beyoncé is probably not going to become a boy anytime soon, so she’s right. In general, you won’t find yourself using “if I was” very often, unless you’re saying something like, “If I was rude, I’m sorry.” (Because it’s possible that I was rude.)


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