Welcome back to the second part of CISL’s four-part “Grammar Lesson of the Month” series! April is all about conditionals at CISL, and each week, we are offering a lesson on one of the four types of conditionals. Last week, we began with the most simple of the four: the First Conditional. Need to refresh yourself on this conditional and how it works? Check out the lesson here!
Today we are focusing on the Second Conditional. Unlike the First Conditional, which focuses on real events and future plans, the Second Conditional is used for things that probably will not happen, like winning the lottery or meeting your favorite celebrity. We use the Second Conditional to dream.
[if + subject + SIMPLE PAST verb] + [subject + might/could/would + base verb]
The Second Conditional looks like the First Conditional: both use the “if/then” structure, and the Second Conditional uses words like “would, could, or might” where the First Conditional uses words like “will, shall, and may.” But don’t be fooled! That is where the similarities end.
The biggest difference between the Second Conditional and the First Conditional is that the Second Conditional talks about events that are not real possibilities. In many examples, these are things that could happen: there is a possibility, but realistically, they are not things that will happen. That is why we often use the Second Conditional to talk about dreams and fantasies, like winning the lottery:
- If I had a million dollars, I might buy a really expensive car.
- If I lived on the beach, I would go swimming every day!
- If I became president, I could meet a lot of famous world leaders.