Second Conditional

Second Conditional or Type 2 expresses a situation which is unlikely to happen in present or future. It is usually contrasted with first conditional. In First Conditional there is a real possibility.  

Why do we use the Second Conditional Clauses?

We use it to talk about imaginary or unreal situations in present and future.

for example...

If I were at home now, I'd lie in front of the TV like a couch potato now. (I am not at home now. I'm imagining that I am at home, and the present consequence.)

If she had the tickets, she'd go to the concert tonight. (She doesn't have the tickets so can't go to the concert tonight.)

If Ali didn't have any homework assignments, he'd play basketball with his friends now. (Ali had some homework assignments so he can't go out to play basketball.)

How do we form it?

We use past simple tense in the first clause and  'would' in the second clause.

for example...

If there were some bananas, we'd make a banana cake now.

If their plane didn't have a problem in its engines, they'd take off much earlier.  

tipsWe can use were instead of was in second conditional clauses. However, in modern English it is possible to use was. 


Are there any other forms?

There are some variations both in the “result” and “if clause”. You can use could or might instead of would in the result clause.

  • Ability/ permission: could > If you knew two languages, you could have a nice job. (ability)

If the boss approved your request, you could go on holiday tomorrow. (Permission)

  • Possibility: might > If Tom spoke to Marry, she might forgive him.

When we use 'might' in the result clause, we are talking about a possible result. tip picture'Would' expresses a certain result. 

For Example... 

If Tom spoke to Marry, she might forgive him. (a possible result)

If Tom spoke to Marry, she would forgive him. (a certain result) 


You can also use past continuous or continuous form both in the “if” and “result clauses”
tip picture

For Example... 

Look at the rain! If I were walking on the street, I’d be wet all over.

If I didn’t have a visa, I wouldn’t be living in the USA now. 

What’s the difference between second and first conditionals?

The main difference between them is the point of the speaker. It’s subjunctive.

For example…

If Tim plays basketball every day, he’ll be in the school team. (The speaker thinks it’s possible to happen if Tim plays basketball every day. It’s likely to happen)

If Tim played basketball every day, you’d be in the school team. (The speaker states that Tim doesn’t play basketball every day and getting into the school team is very unlikely to happen.


Practice 1

Practice 2

Practice 3 (Reading Text)

Practice 4

second conditional

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