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Second Conditional Explanation

Conditionals are an important part of English grammar. Take a look at the following explanation to learn how to use the second conditional correctly.

Grammar Corner Second Conditional Explanation


What Is the Second Conditional?

The second conditional is used to talk about things which are unreal (not true or not possible) in the present or the future – things which don’t or won’t happen.

For example:       

  • If I had a car, I would drive it every day.

If the ‘if‘ clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the ‘if‘ clause comes second, there is no need for a comma.

For example:

  • They would stay longer if they had more time.

Sometimes it’s possible to use ‘should’, ‘could‘ or ‘might’ in place of ‘would‘.

For example:

  • If I had more free time, I could travel around the world.
  • If I won a million dollars, I could stop working.

Second Conditional Structure

Like a first conditional, a second conditional sentence consists of two clauses, an ‘if‘ clause and a main clause. We use different verb forms in each part of a 2nd conditional:

Second Conditional Form:

If + Past Simple, Present Conditional (would/wouldn’t + Verb (bare form)).

For example:

  • If I won a million dollars, I would buy a new car.

Note that this “past simple” form is slightly different from usual in the case of the verb BE. Whatever the subject, the verb form is “were”, not “was”.


  • If I were you, I would quit smoking.
  • If I were the president, I would lower taxes.

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