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  • Second conditional: possible but improbable situations or events.


Remember lesson 104 about possible and very probable situations? Such situations correspond to first conditional structures in English.

When you need to express a possible but improbable situation, something that probably will not happen, you use the second conditional.  

Click the ipod!


Ifpast simpleconditional (would/ could/ might + verb in the infinitive)

 If it rained, we wouldn’t have a picnic.        /       We wouldn’t have a picnic if it rained.

If you worked hard, you could pass the test.      /       You could pass the test if you worked hard.


Let’s see how the same sentences of lesson 104 get when you believe such situations are improbable (things that will probably not happen):

  1. If you were hungry, you could have a sandwich. (But you are not hungry, which is why you aren’t eating anything.)
  2. If John didn’t shave off his beard, Lucy wouldn’t go out with him. (But he shaved it, so Lucy went out with him.)
  3. If Mary were lucky, she might get a small part in a film. (But Mary doesn’t get any parts because she is a very unlucky girl.)
  4. If it rained, we wouldn’t go to the beach. (But it will not rain, so we are going to the beach.)
  5. If you didn’t like the pullover, I‘d give it to your brother. (But you like it, so I’m giving it to you.)
  6. If you were thirsty, I could make some fruit juice. (A remote possibility: I’m not making any juice, because you don’t look thirsty.)
  7. If you didn’t study, you wouldn’t pass the exam. (But you studied a lot, so you passed or will pass.)