When forming a conditional clause with "if", when should I choose "if I am", instead of "if I were" or "if I was"?

I think was is never correct, but may be acceptable for informal use.

I'm writing a song lyric:

If, after life, I satisfy myself for feeling more alive,

will I still feel alive as if I'm breathing?"

Am I correct for choosing "as if I am"? Would "as if I were breathing" be better?

  • 1
    I don't think your proposed "lyric" makes sense, and I don't see how tinkering with the syntax could improve this. What exactly are you trying to say? Jun 4, 2017 at 18:02
  • "If I go to a better state, will I miss how this feels?" But I'd like to use "as if I," but can't decide what goes after that--"am," "was," or "were"? In my example I go for "am."
    – Xyenz
    Jun 6, 2017 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


I am
I am ten pounds heavier now.

you are something now

I were
If I Were A Rich Man

if you were hypothetically something

I was
I was 10 pounds lighter in my twenties.

you were something in the past

For your lyrics

as if I was breathing
as if I were breathing

could both be used depending on what you are trying to say.

  • It can't be "am"? Also, is that correct, I am I am?
    – Xyenz
    Jun 6, 2017 at 12:16
  • "I am I am" was a formatting error.
    – Peter
    Jun 6, 2017 at 19:01
  • So, what's it supposed to be? Also, what about for the future? It has "will," right?
    – Xyenz
    Jun 8, 2017 at 14:44

"as if I am" doesn't make sense. You either are or pretend to be.

The correct way to construct a hypothetical phrase is to use "as if I were"

Another possible way is "like if I were". I also rarely came across "as though I were".

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