The second conditional is used to:
- talk about the present or the future
- talk about unreal situations
The second conditional consists of two clauses:
- An IF clause
- A second clause with WOULD, COULD, MIGHT followed by a BASE VERB (verb without TO)
Tip: The IF clause can be the first or second clause:
- IF I had money, I WOULD/COULD/MIGHT TRAVEL.
- I WOULD/COULD/MIGHT TRAVEL IF I had money.
- IF we WERE wealthy, we WOULD/COULD/MIGHT BUY a new home.
- We WOULD/COULD/MIGHT BUY a new home IF we WERE wealthy.
Tip: We use WERE and not WAS (Auxiliary verb TO BE)
- If I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they WERE wealthy … I, you, she, he, it, we, you, they WOULD/COULD/MIGHT BUY a new home.
- We use WERE because we use the subjunctive mood.
But: We use HAD (Auxiliary verb TO HAVE)
- IF I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they had money, I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they WOULD/COULD/MIGHT TRAVEL.
Non Auxiliary verbs:
- We use the past to form the second conditional: If he won, If they saw, If we went, If you stopped …
- If we left tonight, we would get there earlier.
- If she wanted to go, she would.
- If they bought a new house, they would be in debt.
Recap: The second conditional is used to talk about things that are untrue or impossible in the present or future:
- If they had ten children, they would live in a bigger home. They do not have ten children.
- If he had a bigger yard, he would adopt a dog. He does not have a bigger yard.
- If they were here, we could eat dinner. They are not here.
- If it were sunny, we could ride our bike. It is not sunny.
- If you took the dog to the park, it might play with other dogs. You are not taking the dog to the park.
Try the second conditional quiz!