"If I Was Your Woman" was generally well received by music critics in their reviews for The Diary of Alicia Keys. Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters felt that the song is the "funkiest and most hip-hop inflected track" on the album, adding that it "forc[es] Keys to push towards her highest vocal register".BBC Music reviewer Denise Boyd called it a "[song] to look out for" on the album. Dimitri Ehrlich of Vibe praised Keys' vocal in the song, writing "Her voice is low and full, brimming with emotion. Singing as if her life depended on every note, she makes sure you feel the urgency". Steve LaBate of Paste described the song as "a well-written soul-pop tune with a killer sitar hook and Keys’ chiming harp-like piano accents that eventually morph into sparse, pretty jazz chords during the verse" and concluded that it's one of the "stronger tracks" on the album. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News commented that Keys took a risk by covering the song, but concluded that "she makes it her own, putting more funk in the rhythm and finding new throatiness in her voice". Laura Sinagra of The Village Voice was not pleased with the song, writing that "Keys streets up Gladys Knight with "If I Was Your Woman" and might get fan points for effort, but her hip-hop "aw, aw, aw"s fail to convince".