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I'm quite new to subjuntive and the conditional tense.

If I want to write: If I had been rich, I would have bought a car. Is this correct:

Si yo hubiera sido rico, compraría un coche.

Or should you say it like:

Si yo hubiera sido rico, habría comprado un coche.

Is it correct that you should use "hubiera"? Since we know that I'm not rich, but I could be in the future.

How do you use these tenses correctly?

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Si (yo/él/usted) hubiera sido rico, hubiera/habría comprado un carro.

This means that if you would have been rich at that time you would have bought the car. This can imply that the situation might have changed. For example you may no longer interested in buying the car. But if at that time the condition would have been true you would have done it. The English translation: "If I had been rich, I would have bought a car."

Si (yo/él/usted) fuera rico, compraría un carro.

This means that if at this time you were rich (you are not rich), you would buy a car. You have the intention to do it only if the condition fulfill. The English translation: "If I were rich, I would buy a car".

Si (yo/él/usted) fuera rico, hubiera/habría comprado un carro.

This means that you were not rich at that time and you are not rich now so you couldn't buy a car. The English translation: "If I were rich, I would have bought a car."

As you can see the pronoun is optional and if it can be inferred from the context you usually omit it. Also you can replace the comma with "entonces" example:

Si (yo/él/usted) fuera rico entonces compraría un carro.

It's worth noting that for conditional sentences "si" without accent must be used. On the other hand "sí" with accent is used to affirm.

You can check more on "si" in RAE.

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Hmm, so if you use the conditional tense right away compraría, it means would buy if it is true. If you use the conditional tense with haber (habría comprado), it's would have bought if it is true. In english, you can say If ... I would have bought that car., and it means that you are NOT rich, but if you were, you would do it. Does it in spanish mean that you would have done it if you got the choice earlier, or does it too mean that you still would buy the car if you were rich now? –  Student of Hogwarts Jan 24 '13 at 16:21
    
If I had been rich, I would have bought the car in english simply means that I'm not rich, but if I were right now, I would buy the car. So, does it mean the same if you say Si hubiera sido rico, compraría el coche.? –  Student of Hogwarts Jan 24 '13 at 16:24
    
@StudentofHogwarts well, maybe with this sentence it can be cleared up. Example: "Si hubiera sido rico, habría comprado el coche. Ahora soy rico pero ese coche ya no me interesa." "If I had been rich, I would have bought the car. Now I'm rich but I am no longer interested in that car." –  Alfredo Osorio Jan 24 '13 at 16:32
    
Thanks! So, I'm not rich, but if I were, or if I'm becoming rich in the future, I will buy a nice car. So: "If I had been rich, I would have bought a car." It's like I'm dreaming about what I'd have done if I were rich. How do you think that would be best translated? –  Student of Hogwarts Jan 24 '13 at 17:02
1  
@StudentofHogwarts for this one "So, I'm not rich, but if I were, or if I'm becoming rich in the future, I will buy a nice car." that would be this example of my answer: "Si (yo/él/usted) fuera rico, compraría un carro." is equivalent to English "If I were rich, I would buy a car." Which means that it is only matter that the condition fulfills in order to do it because right now I have the intention. For the "If I had been rich, I would have bought a car" that would be "Si (yo/él/usted) hubiera sido rico, hubiera/habría comprado un carro." of my answer. Hope it helps. –  Alfredo Osorio Jan 24 '13 at 17:19

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