Second conditional – Grammar chart
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If clause and main clause
We use if + past to talk about an imaginary present or future situation (although the verb is in past, the meaning is present or future). And we use would + infinitive to talk about the result or consequence of that imaginary situation.
- If we had a mansion in the country, we’d go there every weekend.
- Would you travel around the world if you won the lottery?
When the if clause comes first, we normally put a comma after it. We don’t use a comma when the main clause comes first and the if clause comes second.
- If I won the lottery, I’d buy a mansion.
- I’d buy a mansion if I won the lottery.
Unless = if (not)
We can also use unless in conditional sentences to mean if … (not)
- I wouldn’t live in a big city unless I had a lot of money.
- = I wouldn’t live in a big city if I didn’t have a lot money.
Would, could, might
In the main clause, we can use could or might instead of would.
- If there was a fire, it would be difficult to escape.
- If you were a bit taller, you could be a basketball player.
- We might save enough money if we both worked overtime.
Was or were?
In the second conditional we can use if I/he/she/it were (more formal) instead of if I/he/she/it was (spoken English).
- If I were/was fit, I would run a marathon.
- We wouldn’t have any problems if he were/was more reasonable.
But we use were (NOT was) when we give advice with the expression if I were you.
- If I were you, I would stay home and rest.
- I wouldn’t pay any attention to what he says if I were you.
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