The 2nd Conditional

for hypotheticals
(things that you can imagine, but are not true)

How to make the 2nd conditional

There are two things to remember for the 2nd conditional:
(i) the ‘if’ phrase uses the past tense
(ii) the imagined part uses ‘would’

– examples:

if I won $1m, I would buy a boat
if I were you, I wouldn’t go *
she would kill him if she saw him do that

* Note: although the past tense of ‘I am’ is ‘I was’, it should become ‘I were’ for if structures.

There is some overlap between the 1st conditional and the second conditional

Some times the 1st and 2nd conditionals are very close in meaning, and either can be used.

1st conditional: If he asks her to marry him, she will say yes (cause & effect)
2nd conditional: If he asked her to marry him, she would say yes (hypothetical)

1st conditional: I won’t be surprised if Brazil win the World Cup.
2nd conditional: I wouldn’t be surprised if Brazil won the World Cup.

Exercises

1. Complete the sentences:
(i) if I found a wallet in the street, I would….
(ii) if I met Spiderman, I would…
(iii) I would run away very very fast if…..