“if I was rich, I would have bought…” vs. If I was rich I would buy…”

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?

Answer

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.

Attribution
Source : Link , Question Author : Community , Answer Author : rjpond

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