A. If I was you, I would help the poor
B. If I were you, I would help the poor

Which of the sentences is correct, A, B or both

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    Both are perfectly acceptable. This "were" is called 'irrealis mood', an untidy relic of an earlier system. Some speakers usually, if not always, use preterite "was" as in your first example. – BillJ Mar 9 '18 at 17:21
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    The more usual term is "subjunctive mood" or more specifically "past subjunctive" – eques Mar 9 '18 at 18:11
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    It's not the subjunctive mood. A subjunctive clause is headed by a plain form verb, as in "It is vital that I be kept informed" / "He insisted that I meet her". It's a nonsense that "were" is a past subjunctive form since it has nothing whatsoever to do with past time. – BillJ Mar 9 '18 at 19:05

B is correct, because this isn't just a regular past tense sentence, it's in subjunctive mood, which is used for hypothetical situations, which is what this one is.


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  • 2
    While the answer is accurate, the SUBJUNCTIVE MOOD is vanishing from English and it's now common to hear statements such as: If he WAS to return... or If I was to visit..... These are now considered perfectly acceptable even though they do not use the SUBJUNCTIVE construction. – Ronald Sole Mar 9 '18 at 17:08
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    @RonaldSole - I think it's a little strong to say "vanishing". It's true that "was" is probably more common than once, but were is hardly moribund. – stangdon Mar 9 '18 at 18:13
  • 1
    @stangdon If I be mistaken, I seek thy pardon! – Ronald Sole Mar 9 '18 at 20:47

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