Second Conditional in English

In the second conditional sentences we use Past Tense in the if-clause and 'would' in the main clause. In this type what is said in the main clause is imaginary consequence of the present non-fact. The if-clause states the non-fact and its verb is accordingly in the Past Tense.

If you parked your car there (now), the police would tow it away.

'Were' can be used with the first and the third person singular to emphasis non-fact.

If I were you, I would start worrying.
If I were in your position, I would apologize.
If I were in your shoes, I would apologize.
If John were here, we could have a game of tennis.
Were I you, I would complain about it.
Were I in your place ... - It is less typical of plain English.
If it wasn't / weren't for the fact that my estate is ten miles away from here, I would walk there.

This type of conditional sentence is used:
a) to make Type 1 sentences more suppositional and hence tentative and polite
Type 1. If you write her a letter, I'll send her my best wishes.
Type 2. If you wrote her a letter, I'd send her my best wishes.

b) to express hypothetical or imaginary conditions,
e.g. If I became a VIP, I would have a body-guard
The condition represented by a conditional clause of this type is more or less improbable but it is not contrary to reality, e.g. my becoming a VIP is improbable but possible.

c) when the supposition is completely impossible or contrary to reality, e.g.
If I were a teacher, I would know the answer. (but I am not a teacher)
If I solved this problem, I would get a Nobel prize. (but it's impossible for me to solve this problem)
were in the second type of conditional sentences is a surviving form of subjective. It is used most often in sentences of the type 'If I were you'. The form 'were' is used for all persons. In the first and third person singular it is sometimes replaced by regular past tense forms was/were (If I was, If you were, if he was) In the second type, as in the first type, time reference may be either present or future.


The Second Conditional is used for the situations which would happen.


  'If' -clause: past tense main clause: 'would/should'
be: If I was taller, I would become a policeman.
have: If he had any money, he would leave home.
other verbs: If you took a taxi, you would get there quicker.
could: If you could see me now, you would laugh your head off.

'If' + simple past + d' conditional

'if' simple past d' conditional
If it rained tomorrow, we'd stay at home.
If you went by train, you would get there earlier.
If I had longer legs, I would be able to run faster.

Variation 1: 'If' + were/was + 'would/should'

'If' -clause: 'were/was' main clause: 'would/should'
If I/he/she/it were/was ready, I would (should) go.
If you/we/there were ready, we would (should) go.
If I was / were better qualified, I'd apply for the job.
If I were you / in your position, I would accept their offer.
If it weren't for your help, I would still be unemployed.
Were it not for your help, I would still be unemployed.

Variation 2: If + past + modal

'if'-clause: past tense main clause: modal
If he knew the facts, he could / might tell us what to do.
If he could get the facts, he could / might tell us what to do.
If he were here, he could help us.
If he were here, he might help us.
If he failed, he ought to / should try again.
If he were here now, she could be helping us.
If he was in London, he could have met my sister.

Variation 3: If + were to / was to + 'would', etc.

'if'-clause: 'were to/was to' main clause: 'would/should', etc.
If I were to (was to) ask, would you help me?
If you were to ask him, he might help you.
If he were to make an effort, he could do better.