Living my whole life in Arkansas in the United States, I’m certain
that if I were is never used by locals. Instead, phrases like
if I was and you was and they was have all replaced their
equivalents in other regions.
I’ve heard these so often that I think it’s necessary to ask if
they are grammatically correct as a part of a southern dialect.
Does their appearance in a certain region as acceptable excuse
their application in formal writing?
Personally, I indeed believe that anything not found in generic,
“accent-free” areas should not be considered correct. But
officially within a southern U.S. dialect, are these constructions
This question is the stuff grammar wars are fought over.
Personally, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say “if I were”, and I’ve lived all over the US except the south. The lay idea being, you would say, “I was a king,” not, “I were a king,” so why should you say, “If I were a king,” instead of, “If I was a king”?
This is called the “subjunctive mood” and is used to indicate that the statement is untrue or wistful. “If I were…” or “I wish I were…” are the typical structures for “subjunctive mood” statements.
So, is it now grammatically correct to dispense with the subjunctive mood? That’s a matter of opinion, but if you ask most people they’d probably say, “What’s a subjunctive mood?” If I was braver, I would voice my preference.