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Practice with the exercises:
Exercise 1

1. The second conditional

In English there are several types of conditionals, among them, the second conditional. This type of conditional is used to talk about events that are not true at the present time or that are unlikely to happen in the future.

If I had money, I would travel more.
If I asked Susan out, would she accept?

2. Structure of the second conditional

The second conditional has the following structure:

If + subject + past simple, subject + would + verb in infinitive (without to)

Although with the personal pronouns I, he, she, and it the form was is used as the past of the verb to be, with conditionals the form were is used instead. We can also use could instead of would.

  Second Conditional
I If I were invisible for one day, I could play tricks on my friends.
HE If he weren't so stubborn, he would admit he was wrong.
SHE If she were a good friend, she would help you.
IT If it were cheaper, I could buy it.

The order of the two sentences that make up the conditional structure can be changed. If we start with the If condition, we will separate them with a comma. If we start with the sentence that expresses the result, then we won't put a comma.

If I ate less, I would lose weight.
I would lose weight if I ate less.

3. How is the second conditional used?

  • For situations that the speaker believes are unlikely to happen in the future.
    If I became President, I would change many things.
    If I saw Madonna, I would scream.
  • For situations that are not true at the present time.
    If I had more time, I would take up a sport.
    In this example, the boy hasn't got time (he works), but this situation might change in the future and he could decide to do sport.
    If you spoke up, I'd hear you.
    In this example, the speaker can hardly be heard because he speaks quietly. Still, this may change in the future, as he might speak louder.
    It should be noted that the contracted form of would is 'd.
  • To give advice to someone using the expression If I were you.
    If I were you, I'd say yes.
    If I were youI wouldn't invite her.

Remember!

The second conditional is a type of conditional that is used to talk about events that are not true in the present or that are unlikely to happen in the future.
STRUCTURE
IF + PAST SIMPLE, + WOULD + VERB IN INFINITIVE (WITHOUT TO)
USES EXAMPLES
For situations the speaker considers unlikely to happen in the future. If I were an astronaut, I would travel to the Moon.
For situations that are not possible in the present, that is, they are not a reality at the present time. If I worked shifts, I would choose mornings.
To give advice using the expression If I were you. If I were you, I would tell her the truth.

 

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