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 Second conditional

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PostSubject: Second conditional   9/2/2011, 9:57 pm


Second conditional


The Second Conditional is used to talk about 'impossible' situations.



  • If we were in London today, we would be able to go to the concert in Hyde Park.

  • If I had millions dollars, I'd give a lot to charity.

  • If there were no hungry people in this world, it would be a much better place.

  • If everyone had clean water to drink, there would be a lot less disease.


Note
that after I / he/ she /it we often use the subjunctive form 'were' and
not 'was'. (Some people think that 'were' is the only 'correct' form
but other people think 'was' is equally 'correct' .)




  • If she were happy in her job, she wouldn't be looking for another one.



  • If I lived in Japan, I'd have sushi every day.

  • If they were to enter our market, we'd have big problems.


Note the form 'If I were you' which is often used to give advice.



  • If I were you, I'd look for a new place to live.

  • If I were you, I'd go back to school and get more qualifications.


The Second Conditional is also used to talk about 'unlikely' situations.



  • If I went to China, I'd visit the Great Wall.

  • If I was the President, I'd reduce taxes.

  • If you were in my position, you'd understand.


Note
that the choice between the first and the second conditional is often a
question of the speaker's attitude rather than of facts. Compare these
examples. Otto thinks these things are possible, Peter doesn't.



  • Otto – If I win the lottery, I'll buy a big house.

  • Peter – If I won the lottery, I'd buy a big house.

  • Otto – If I get promoted, I'll throw a big party.

  • Peter – If I got promoted, I'd throw a big party.

  • Otto – If my team win the Cup, I'll buy champagne for everybody.

  • Peter – If my team won the Cup, I'd buy champagne for everybody.


Note that the 'If clause' can contain the past simple or the past continuous.



  • If I was still working in Brighton, I would commute by train.


  • If she were coming, she would be here by now.



  • If they were thinking of selling, I would want to buy.


Note that the main clause can contain 'would' 'could' or 'might.



  • If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it differently.

  • If we met up for lunch, we could go to that new restaurant.

  • If I spoke to him directly, I might be able to persuade him.


Also note that sometimes the 'if clause' is implied rather than spoken.



  • What would I do without you? ("if you weren't here")

  • Where would I get one at this time of night? ("if I wanted one")

  • He wouldn't agree. ("if I asked him")
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