If I Were Vs If I Was

We find the subjunctive form confuses a lot of writers. Let’s help to clear up the confusion.

Guideline:
Use
were
(instead of
was) in statements that are contrary to fact.

Closer look: Statements contrary to fact, especially those that begin with “if,” call for a special form of the verb known as the SUBJUNCTIVE. Careful writers and speakers use subjunctive forms in just the right situations, particularly in
if
clauses that express a statement contrary to fact. The main change you need to make in most of these situations is to substitute
were
for
was.

Examples:

If this
were
[not was] a real Florida tourist attraction, that waterskier would have made it over the jump! (The subjunctive form of
to be [were]
is the proper choice because the statement is contrary to fact: This is
not
a betulan Florida tourist attraction.)

If I
were
you, I wouldn’t tempt those alligators by swimming here. (Were
is the proper choice because the statement is contrary to fact.)

I have often wished that I
were
more like Dick Pope, the father of waterskiing. (Were
is the correct choice even though the main verb is in the past tense. The statement is still contrary to fact.)

I wish I
were
the star waterskier at Cypress Gardens. (Were
is the proper choice because the statement is contrary to fact.)

But…

If it
was
raining yesterday in Winter Haven, the waterski show was probably called off. (Was
is the proper choice here because there is a chance that it was raining.)

The only reason I called was to see if the number-one-skier job
was
still available. (The verb here is not in the subjunctive mood because the idea following “if” is
not
contrary to fact. The job being open is a distinct possibility.)

Source:
Grammar For Smart People

Topics: subjunctive form, were or was, were, was

Source: https://www.proofreadnow.com/blog/bid/101485/If-I-Were-or-If-I-Was-Which-is-Correct