"If I were rich, I would have a lot of cars and houses."
Translation:Si j'étais riche, j'aurais beaucoup de voitures et de maisons.
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Why isn't ''si je serais riche'' correct? Surely 'if I were rich'' and ''I would have lots of cars and houses'' refers to a future desire i.e. if I were to be rich. The given answer '''si j'étais riche'' I understand to refer to the past, and therefore the second part should also be in the past ''I would have had lots of cars and houses'' i.e. ''j'aurais eu beaucoup de voitures et maisons''.
In statements with a hypothesis or condition (with if/si), the conditional mood is at work in the main clause, not in the subordinate clause (introduced by "si").
It is the same in English by the way:
- If... I would have = Si... j'aurais (conditional present)
- If... I would have had = Si... j'aurais eu (conditional past)
When it comes to the subordinate clause, it is in indicative imperfect or pluperfect:
- If I were... = Si j'étais... (indicative past imperfect)
- If I had been... = Si j'avais été... (indicative plus-que-parfait