0

Is it correct to answer if it was or were with “would have”?

Example:

If I was rich, I would have bought a car.

Or should it be only would?

If I was rich, I would buy a car.

If the former, why?

  • I think that answers to this question would be helpful. – tuxestan Aug 4 '17 at 11:02
  • If I were a rich man I would buy a car. – Hot Licks Aug 4 '17 at 11:51
  • The first describes the past, the second, the future. However, If-was works best to argue against a statement, and If-were works best for imagined possibilities. You say I was rich but drove a bike -- I say "Untrue, since if I was rich, I would have bought a car (and I couldn't cause I wasn't)." Or, "Was I rich then? That might have been nice. If I were rich, I would have bought a car." – Yosef Baskin Aug 4 '17 at 13:53
1

Past counterfactuals

To talk about a counterfactual in the past, you usually use the past perfect in the subordinate clause, then the conditional perfect in the main clause:

  • If I had been rich, I would have bought a car.

Hypotheticals

To talk about an alternative present or a hypothetical future, you use the simple past in the subordinate clause, then the conditional in the main clause:

  • If I was rich, I would buy a car.

Some speakers prefer the "were" form here (which can replace "was" when a hypothetical is being discussed):

  • If I were rich, I would buy a car.

However, you could also combine the hypothetical wealth with a perfect verb:

  • If I was/were rich, I would have bought a car.

Here the sense is that you would have already bought it, possibly some time ago, not simply that would be about to buy it.

0

Best to go back to the "was" and change it to "were" to match the tense of the the first example. The second sentence is probably fine with either "was" or "were."

0
  1. If I were\had been rich five years ago, I would have bought that car. (I'm rich now)
  2. If I was rich, I would have bought that car we saw yesterday. (I'm still not rich)
  3. If I was rich, I would buy a car. (I'm not rich)
0

"If I was rich I would have bought a car" means that if the speaker was rich, they would have bought a car; that is, it would be in the past.

In "If I was rich I would buy a car", the speaker means that, in a hypothetical situation where they gained a lot of money, they would buy a car.

Generally, in the first situation someone, the speaker may be trying to do that thing, while in the second the speaker is merely pondering what he/she would buy if they had sufficient money.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy