Type 2 Conditional | Second Conditional

Here we use a simple past in the if-clause and would + infinitive (bare form of the verb) in the result clause.

  • If you asked, they would help you.
  • If it rained, you would get wet.
  • If you loved her, she would love you.
  • If had more money, I would buy a new car.
  • If he studied more, he would pass the exam.
  • If were the President, I would lower taxes.

The type 2 conditional refers to present and future situations. It is used to talk about unreal – impossible, improbable or imaginary – situations. It refers to an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result.

Type 1 or type 2 – What to use?

Real and imaginary situations

The type 1 conditional is often called the real conditional. It is used for real and possible situations. The type 2 conditional is used for unreal – impossible, improbable or imaginary – situations.

Compare:
  • If I become the President, I will give free electricity to farmers. (Said by a candidate, who may win the election – Type 1)
  • If I win this race, I will… (- Said by the fastest runner – Type 1)
  • If I became the President, I would give free electricity to farmers. (Said by a child – Type 2)
  • If I won this race, would… (- Said by the slowest runner – Type 2)

Direct requests and suggestions

In direct request or suggestions we use type 1 conditional. To make a request or suggestion more polite, we use type 2 conditional.

Compare:
  • will be grateful if you lend me some money. (direct request – Type 1)
  • It will be nice if you help me. (direct request – Type 1)
  • It would be nice if you helped me. (less direct, more polite request – Type 2)
  • would be grateful if you lent me some money. (more polite request – Type 2)

The Type 2 Conditional – Alternate forms

Modals in the result clause

We can use could in the result clause to mean would be able to.

  • If you were more serious about your work, you could finish it in time. (= You would be able to finish it in time.)
  • If I had more money, I could buy a new car. (= I would be able to buy a new car.)
  • If you spoke a foreign language, you could get a better job. (= You would be able to get a better job.)

Might can be used in the result clause to mean would perhaps or would possibly.

  • If you requested them more politely, they might help you. (= They would perhaps help you.)

Were to

If can be followed by ‘subject + were to‘ to suggest that we are talking about an imaginary condition.

  • If I were to buy a new car, what would you say?
  • If you were to lose your job, what would you do?
  • If you were to win, what would you give me?

If it were not for

This structure is used to say that one event depends on another for completion.

  • If it weren’t for his dedication, this company wouldn’t exist.
  • If it weren’t for your timely help, I wouldn’t be alive today.
  • If it weren’t for his wife’s money, he wouldn’t be a millionaire.

Supposing

Supposing is used in place of if to emphasize the imaginary. It is more commonly used in everyday speech.

  • Supposing he came to visit you, what would you do? (= If he came to visit you, what would you do?)
  • Supposing I became the Miss World, what would you say?

Manjusha

Hi, I am Manjusha. This is my blog where I give English grammar lessons and worksheets. You may also want to check out my other blogs IELTS Practice and NCERT Guides

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