If he was/were rich

daruk

Senior Member
Korean
Hello, forum gurus!

If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.
......
Does that imply that he is still not rich?
 
  • london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    No, it means he wasn't rich at the time of speaking. We don't know if he's rich or not now.

    That said, the sentence is incorrect. It should be either:

    If he had been rich he would have gone to college.

    or:

    If he were rich he would go to college.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.

    I don't see a problem with this sentence. It is not essential here to use the past perfect with "rich".

    The use of the modal preterite "was" or the irrealis "were" imply that he wasn't rich then, nor is he now.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Like billj, I don't have a problem with the sentence. I'd say it's a normal mixed conditional.

    The implication is that "he" isn't rich at the time of speaking.
     
    Last edited:

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.

    I don't see a problem with this sentence. It is not essential here to use the past perfect with "rich".

    The use of the modal preterite "was" or the irrealis "were" imply that he wasn't rich then, nor is he now.

    Thanks for the explanations, billj!
     

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Like billj, I don't have a problem with the sentence. I'd say it's a normal mixed conditional.

    The implication is that "he" isn't rich at the time of speaking.

    Thanks, Loob!
    Do you find the implication is that "he" isn't rich at the time of speaking only?
    Doesn't the state of his not being rich apply to the present state?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I don't really understand the question, daruk. If someone said that sentence five years ago, it would imply that he wasn't rich five years ago. If someone said that sentence now, it would imply that he wasn't rich now.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    If you want clear answers to your question in #1, you must specify the context.
    Are you speaking about the past or present (If he was rich)?
    Or are you speaking about the present If he were rich)?
    In neither case are we told anything about whether he was or still is rich.
     

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Thanks Loob!

    If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.

    This is said now. Someone said it at this moment.
    Then, does it imply that he is still not rich?
     

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I don’t see how it says anything about whether he was rich then.

    Thanks elroy!

    If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.
    .........

    As this seems to be Counterfactual, this implies that he was not rich at the time in the Past, so he didn't go to college.

    What I want to know is, whether this implies that he is still not rich now, because "if he was/were rich" is used.
     
    Last edited:

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    If you want clear answers to your question in #1, you must specify the context.
    Are you speaking about the past or present (If he was rich)?
    Or are you speaking about the present If he were rich)?
    In neither case are we told anything about whether he was or still is rich.

    Thanks e23four!
    What I want to know is whether the sentence itself implies anything, without any further context.
    Some people say that it implies he was not rich in the past, and also not rich today.
    Other people say that it implies nothing about today, that it only says that he was not rich in the past.
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    If he was/were rich, he would have gone to college.
    .........

    As this seems to be Counterfactual, this implies that he was not rich at the time in the Past, so he didn't go to college.

    What I want to know is, whether this implies that he is still not rich now, because "if he was/were rich" is used.
    For me that's a clear yes to both assumptions!

    In the absence of any context, in this sentence you're implying that being rich is a requirement for going to college.
    It's semantic logic that dictates that he wasn't rich when he had to make the choice in the past.

    If it's known that he is really rich right now, your sentence wouldn't make sense. In this case you'd normally say:
    If he had (already) been rich back then, he would have gone to college.
     

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    For me that's a clear yes to both assumptions!

    In the absence of any context, in this sentence you're implying that being rich is a requirement for going to college.
    It's semantic logic that dictates that he wasn't rich when he had to make the choice in the past.

    If it's known that he is really rich right now, your sentence wouldn't make sense. In this case you'd normally say:
    If he had (already) been rich back then, he would have gone to college.


    I see.
    Well understood.
    This helps!
    Thank you, manfy.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Often we think of whether or not a person is rich as something fixed. It can be very difficult to escape from the situation you were born into, and in times past it was sometimes regarded as the natural order of things ("God made them high or lowly" as the hymn used to say). "If he were/was rich" need not refer specifically to the present, but could refer to all time; he wasn't born rich, he doesn't come from a rich family, he is not rich now and has no expectation of ever becoming rich in the future.

    Because "If he were/was rich" refers to his never being rich, it can have an effect in the past, which is why the mixed 2/3 conditional is fine:
    If he were/was rich, he would have gone to college.​

    However, a speaker who does not want to suggest that a person is rich or poor for life would avoid this timeless use of being rich or poor, and would refer to the person's being rich or poor at the time in question. Here it is in the past, so they would use the past perfect in a type 3 conditional:
    If he had been rich, he would have gone to college.​

    A type 3 conditional says nothing about the present (perhaps he is rich now; perhaps he is not).
     

    daruk

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Often we think of whether or not a person is rich as something fixed. It can be very difficult to escape from the situation you were born into, and in times past it was sometimes regarded as the natural order of things ("God made them high or lowly" as the hymn used to say). "If he were/was rich" need not refer specifically to the present, but could refer to all time; he wasn't born rich, he doesn't come from a rich family, he is not rich now and has no expectation of ever becoming rich in the future.

    Because "If he were/was rich" refers to his never being rich, it can have an effect in the past, which is why the mixed 2/3 conditional is fine:
    If he were/was rich, he would have gone to college.​

    However, a speaker who does not want to suggest that a person is rich or poor for life would avoid this timeless use of being rich or poor, and would refer to the person's being rich or poor at the time in question. Here it is in the past, so they would use the past perfect in a type 3 conditional:
    If he had been rich, he would have gone to college.​

    A type 3 conditional says nothing about the present (perhaps he is rich now; perhaps he is not).

    Thank you Uncle Jack!
    This helps enormously.
     
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