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Let’s have a look at the form and meaning of the second conditional:

Form:

if + past tense + would + (without ‘to’)

If

Future condition

Future result

If

past tense

would + infinitive (without “to”)

If

I won the lottery,

I would buy a car.

If

James became rich,

she would marry him.

If

it snowed next July,

would you be surprised?

If

you came in the summer,

you could stay with us.

If

you came in the summer,

you might even get your own room.

If

she bought the villa,

she should build a swimming pool in it.

 

Future result

if

Future condition

would + infinitive (without ‘to’)

if

past tense

I would buy a car

if

I won the lottery.

She would marry him

if

he became rich.

Would you be surprised

if

it snowed next July?

You could stay with us

if

you came in the summer.

You might even get your own room

if

you came in the summer.

She should build a swimming pool in the villa

if

she bought it.

 

Note: Sometimes, we change would with should, could, or might.

 

Meaning:

We use the second conditional to express an unlikely connection between one imaginary event (if + past tense) and another imaginary event (would + infinitive [without ‘to’]). This conditional is known as the ‘hypothetical’ conditional, because it is used to talk about ‘impossible’ situations in the future. Therefore, we are using a past tense to speak about the future condition, and the would + infinitive (without ‘to’) to speak about the future result.

Use the following exercises to test yourself.

 

example – 1+2) If I were (be) you, I would get  (get) a new job. 

3+4) If he ______________  (be) younger, he ______________  (travel) more. 

5+6) If we ______________  (not/be) friends, I ______________  (be) angry with you. 

7+8) If I ______________  (have) enough money, I ______________  (buy) a big house. 

9+10) If she ______________  (not/be) always so late, she ______________  (be) promoted. 

11+12) If we ______________  (win) the lottery, we ______________  (travel) the world. 

13+14) If you ______________  (have) a better job, we ______________  (be) able to buy a new car. 

15+16) If I ______________  (speak) perfect English, I ______________  (have) a good job. 

17+18) If we ______________  (live) in Mexico, I ______________  (speak) Spanish.

19+20) If she ______________  (pass) the exam, she ______________  (be) able to enter university.

1.

If I…

2.

, I…

3.

If he…

4.

, he…

5.

If we…

6.

, I…

7.

If I…

8.

, i…

9.

If she…

10.

, she…

11.

If we…

12.

, we…

13.

If you…

14.

, we…

15.

If I…

16.

, I…

17.

If we…

18.

, I…

19.

If she…

20.

, she…


 

If you have any questions about the second conditional, please leave a comment below.

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