Second Conditional Sentences

1. Use

It is theoretically possible to fulfill a condition which is given in the if-clause although it is unlikely to happen.

2. Form

if clause main clause
Simple Past would + infinitive
could + infinitive
might + infinitive

3. Examples

if clause main clause
If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house.
If I won the lottery, I could buy a big house.
If I won the lottery, I might buy a big house.

The if-clause can be at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.

if clause main clause
If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house.
main clause if clause
I would buy a big house, If I won the lottery.

4. Grammar Point

The above examples in the main clauses are known grammatically as the Conditional SimpleIt is also possible to have the main clause in a continuous tense i.e:

if clause main clause
If I had more time, would be studying harder

This is known grammatically as the Conditional Continuous

5. First Conditional and Second Conditional

The first conditional describes things that I think are likely to happen in the future, whereas the second conditional talks about things that I don’t think will really happen. It’s subjective; it depends on my point of view.

For example (first conditional): If he studies harder, he’ll pass the test (I think it’s possible he will study harder and so he’ll pass).

But (second conditional): If he studied harder, he would pass the exam (I think that he won’t study harder, or it’s very unlikely, and so he won’t pass).