Conditional II

Type 2 conditional sentences talk about situations that are hypothetical. There is a possibility that the condition will be fulfilled.

"Conditional II" in English Grammar

What Are Second Conditionals?

The second conditional is a type of conditional sentence used to describe an unlikely or impossible hypothetical situation in the present or future. The second conditional is often used in everyday conversation to talk about unrealistic or hypothetical situations, to express wishes or regrets, or to make suggestions in a polite way.

Conditional II: Structure

The structure of a second conditional sentence includes an 'if-clause' that presents a hypothetical condition using the past simple tense, and a 'main clause' that indicates the hypothetical result using a modal verb (such as 'would', 'could', or 'might') plus the base form of the verb.
Thus, the structure is as follows:

[If clause] + [main clause]:
[If + past simple tense] + [Modals (would/could/should) + base form of verb]

Take a look at some examples:

If I were rich, I could buy that car.

Using the second conditional, the speaker is imagining having a lot of money.

If I had a son, I would name him Johnathan.

Punctuation

If the 'if clause' comes at the beginning of the sentence, it must be followed by a comma (,).

If she won the lottery, she could move to the USA.

However, if the sentence begins with the main clause, there is no need for a comma between the two clauses.

She could move to the USA if she won the lottery.

Verb Tenses

The if clause in the second conditional is always in the past simple tense. In this case, the past tense does not indicate the past time. Rather, it indicates distance from reality.

Conditional II

Conditional Tenses

Conditional tenses are used in the main clause of a conditional sentence. Modal verbs like could, would, should and might are examples of conditional verbs. Each of these modals indicates a specific meaning. Check out the examples:

If I had 100$, I would buy that designed handbag.

It is unlikely that the speaker will buy that handbag. But it is certain that if she had 100$ she would absolutely buy that bag.

If I had 100$, I might buy that designed handbag.

Here, it is not certain that the speaker would buy that bag even if she had 100$.

If I had 100$, I could buy that designed handbag.

Here, there is a possibility that she would be able to buy the handbag if she had 100$.

Conditional II: 'To Be' Verb

In most contexts, the past tense of the verb 'to be' is conjugated in two forms:
Was and Were
However, in second conditionals, the past form of 'be' for all persons and numbers is 'were'.

Indicative mood Second conditional
I/He/She/It was were
You/We/They were were

If I were a millionaire, I would buy a mansion.

If I was a millionaire, I would buy a mansion.

This is wrong. If you want to state a second conditional, you should use 'were' instead of 'was'.

First vs. second Conditionals

The main difference between the first conditional and the second conditional is the level of likelihood or probability of the event or situation being described.
The first conditional is used to describe a possible future event or situation that is likely to happen, given a certain condition. It is often used to make plans, predictions, or warnings.
On the other hand, the second conditional is used to describe an unlikely, hypothetical, or impossible situation in the present or future. It is often used to express a wish or to make a suggestion in an indirect way.
Moreover, in case of the first conditional, the if-clause is usually formed with the present simple tense, and the main clause is formed with a modal verb (such as 'will', 'should', 'can') plus the base form of the verb, while in the second conditional the if-clause is formed with the past simple tense, and the main clause is formed with a modal verb (such as 'would', 'could', or 'might') plus the base form of the verb. Compare the examples:

If I became a doctor, I would cure cancer.

This sentence is a second conditional. Therefore, this situation is imaginary or unlikely.

If I become a doctor, I will cure cancer.

This sentence is a first conditional. This situation is more likely.

Note that 'become' and 'became' both refer to the present or the future. The simple past tense here does not indicate a time in the past.

Review

Conditional sentences are used to indicate that the action in the main clause (the sentence without if) can only take place if a certain condition (in the if clause) is met. Type 2 conditionals talk about hypothetical situations in the present and future.

Structure

Here is the structure:

if clause always in past tense
main clause using modals like: could, would, should and might

If I had $100, I might buy that designed handbag.

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