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Conditional Type II Sentences

Having studied the first conditional previously, let's look at conditional II sentences and when to use these instead in hypothetical situations (i.e. situations that we imagine).

Conditional forms are used to imagine events in certain conditions. The conditional can be used to speak about real events that always happen (first conditional), imaginary events (second conditional), or imagined past events (third conditional, which we shall cover in a future lesson).

If we finish early, we will go out for lunch. = Conditional I - possible situation
If we had time, we would visit our friends.= Conditional II - imaginary situation

We need to study conditional forms in order to speak about past, present and future situations that depend on other events happening.

The second conditional or conditional II or unreal conditional is about something that would be true if something happened in the present.

It is often called the "unreal" conditional because it is used for unreal, impossible or improbable situations. This type of conditional provides an imaginary result for a given situation.

Conditional II is formed by the use of the past simple in the ‘if clause’ followed by a comma and the ‘would’ verb (base form) in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

[If they had more money], [they would buy a new house].
[They would buy a new house] [if they had more money].

NOTE: The verb 'to be', when used in conditional II, is always used as 'were'.

[If he studied more], [he would pass the exam].
[I would lower taxes] [if I were the President].
[They would buy a new house] [if they had more money].

Practice time!

Please do the following exercise. Answer the questions as shown in the model to practise a HYPOTHETICAL condition. (The action will probably not happen, because the person is going to follow the other course of action.)


A: She isn't going to become a teacher next year.
B: What would happen if she became a teacher next year?
A: ............... [work very hard]
A: If she became a teacher next year, she would work very hard.

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

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