Conditional II

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

Intermediate
"Conditional II" in English Grammar

What Are Second Conditionals?

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. Here, we will study the second conditional sentences. It talks about hypothetical, imaginary, or unlikely situations in the present or future. These situations may become real, but it is rare.

Conditional II: Structure

The structure of second conditionals is:
If + condition + result:
If + past simple tense + conditional tense (would/could/should + base form of verb)

If I were rich, I could buy the car.

In reality, the speaker is not rich. But with use of second conditional, the speaker is talking about imagining having a lot of money.

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

In the present, the speaker does not have a son. It is possible for them to someday have a son.

If Clause

If the 'if clause' comes first (at the beginning of the sentence) don't forget to put a comma (,) after it.

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

If you begin your sentence with the main clause, you don't need to put a comma between the two clauses.

She could move to USA if she won the lottery.

Conditional II: Verb Tenses

As we mentioned earlier, second conditionals talk about hypothetical situations in the present and future. But the if clause always has the past simple tense. Why?
Because the past tense is not showing the past time. It is showing a distance from reality.

Conditional II

Conditional Tenses

Conditional tenses are used to create the main clause of a conditional sentence, which expresses hypothetical or unlikely situations. Modal verbs like could, would, should and might are examples of conditional verbs. Each of these modals indicate a certain meaning. Check these 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.

It is unlikely that the speaker will buy that handbag. But it is not certain that IF she had 100$ she would absolutely get that bag. Maybe she would not buy that.

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

It is unlikely that the speaker will buy that handbag. But it is definitely a possibility that IF she had 100$ she would be able to buy it.

Conditional II: the 'Be' Verb

The past tense of the verb 'be' in the normal case or an indicative mood is conjugated into two forms:
Was and Were
But in the subjunctive mood, the past form of 'be' is 'were' for all persons and numbers.

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

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

As you can see, we use subjunctive mood.

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 And second Conditionals: Comparison

Second conditional indicates a hypothetical situation, but first conditional indicates a real promise and a situation that has a chance of actually happening.
Compare these two sentences:

If I became a doctor, I would cure cancer.

This sentence is a second conditional. Therefore, this situation is imaginary, unlikely or not possible. The speaker is probably a student dreaming.

If I become a doctor, I will cure cancer.

This sentence is a first conditional. This situation is more real. It can happen. The speaker is perhaps a real doctor who has studied cancer treatment for a while.

Note that 'if I become' and 'if I 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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Conditional Mood

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Zero Conditional

'If you don't eat or drink, you die'. 'If you heat water, it boils'. Zero conditional is used to talk about facts or situations which are always true.

Conditional I

We use the conditional Type 1 when we want to talk about situations we believe are real or possible in the future. 'If I study hard, I'll pass the exam.'

Conditional III

Conditional III indicates an impossible, hypothetical and unreal condition in the past and its probable result in the past. To learn about them, start reading!

Mixed Conditional

Sometimes the two parts of a conditional sentence refer to different times. This is called a mixed conditional. Ready to learn?

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