VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be
Grammar

Second Conditional

IF-CLAUSE

MAIN CLAUSE

If he did that,

I would leave him.

The verb in the if-clause is in the past tense.
The verb in the main clause is in the conditional form.

  • If someone stole my bag, I would immediately contact the police. (But I don't think that anyone will try to steal the bag. The meaning here is future.)

There is no difference between the first and second conditionals as far as time is concerned. The first conditional, like the second conditional refers to the present or future. The past tense in the if-clause is not a true past but a subjunctive, which indicates improbability or unreality.

Use

1. When the supposition is contrary to known facts:

  • If I lived in New York, I wouldn't have to commute there each day. (But I don't live in New York.)
  • If I were you, I would plant some trees in your garden. (But I'm not you.)

2. When we don't expect the action in the if-clause to happen:

  • If I saw a zombie, I would run as fast as I could. (But I don't expect to see a zombie.)
  • If I bought a car like this, everyone would admire me. (But I don't intend to buy the car.)

Possible Variations of the Basic Form

Variations of the main clause: might or could may be used instead of would:

  • If you tried again, you would succeed. (certain result)
  • If you tried again, you might succeed. (possible result)
  • If I knew her number, I could ring her up. (ability)
  • If he had a permit, he could get a job. (ability or permission)

The continuous conditional form may be used instead of the simple:

  • Peter is on holiday; he is touring Italy ~ If I were on holiday I would/might be touring Italy too.

Check your understanding!

VerbAbout VerbsAction VerbsCausative VerbsContractionsDo and MakeFinite and Nonfinite VerbsGerundInfinitive FormInversionLinking VerbsModal VerbsMay and MightMoodsPhrasal VerbsSay and TellShallStative VerbsThird Person SingularUsed toRegular VerbsIrregular VerbsVerb FormsCompound Verbs
ConditionalConditionalZero ConditionalFirst ConditionalSecond ConditionalThird ConditionalMixed ConditionalInversion in Conditional Sentences
Passive VoicePassive VoicePresent Simple PassivePresent Continuous PassivePast Simple PassivePast Continuous PassivePerfect Tenses PassiveFuture Simple PassiveGoing to PassiveSay / Believe / SupposeGet + Participle
Adverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of FrequencyAdverbs of Frequency - Position in Sentence
QuestionsQuestion TagsRhetorical QuestionsEcho Questions
Reported SpeechReported SpeechModals in Reported SpeechReported Commands and RequestsReported QuestionsPresent Perfect in Reported SpeechFuture Perfect in Reported Speech
Irregular VerbsIrregular Verbs - GroupsIrregular Verbs - Forms
ParticiplesPresent ParticiplePast ParticiplePerfect Participle
Other TopicsWill vs. Going toIf / Even if / Whether / Unless If + Were or If + WasAs If / As Though + Past SubjunctiveHabits Expressed by Will and WouldHad BetterSubject
Read MoreAuxiliary VerbsAuxiliary Verbs: To BeAuxiliary Verbs: To HaveAuxiliary Verbs: To DoWhen To Use the Verb To Be