Conditional II for intermediate learners

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 used to talk about an unreal situation in which the result is unlikely to happen now or in the future. Just like the other hypothetical statements, it includes an 'if clause' plus a 'main clause'.


The structure of the second conditional is:

(Dependent clause) 'if' and simple past tense + (main clause) conditional tense (would/could/should + base form of the verb)

If I were a boy, I would marry you.

If I had money, I could travel with them.

The "Be" Verb

The verb to be normally has two forms when used in the past tense which are:

  • 'Was' (this one is used for first person and third-person singular)
  • 'Were' (this one is used for second person singular and all forms of plural)

In this structure, note that we use 'were' for all singular and plural pronouns. Look at the examples below:

If I were you, I would choose to become a teacher.

If she were here, she would dance all night.


When the 'if clause' is at the beginning of the sentence, make sure to add a comma ma to the statement.

If I had a cat, I would name it Susie.

When the 'if clause' comes after the result clause, make sure you do not add any commas to the sentence.

They would live in Africa if they had enough money.


The verb tense in the 'if clause' in this condition is always past tense, but it does not mean that it happened in the past; it shows the unreal and imaginary situation.


This type of conditional statement is used when we want to talk about an impossible event, or an unreal and imaginary situation or idea that is not likely to happen.

If I had the chance to study abroad, I would choose Italy as my destination.

If we bought a house near the sea, we could go to the beach every evening.

First Conditional vs. Second Conditional

The first conditional is used to state a possible, real event that will likely happen now or in the future, while the second conditional is only used when we want to talk about an unreal, hypothetical situation that is unlikely to happen.

If they work hard, they will succeed.

If you were to go to the university, you would be able to study literature.

Also, note that we only use the simple present and present continuous forms in the first conditional sentences, but we use simple past tense plus modals in the second conditional statements.

If I talk to the doctor, she will tell me what to do.

Here you can see that this is about a real-life event.

If I bought a car, I could travel to the country side on weekends.

As you can see, here we are talking about an unreal situation.


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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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