Second conditional: when and how to use


Structure of second conditional
positive negative question
If I had more time, I'd travel more.

I'd = I would
I wouldn't refuse if you offered me $10,000.

I would be surprised if he didn't come.

wouldn't = would not
didn't = did not
What would you say if you met the President?

When to use

We use the second conditional to express an unreal or improbable condition and its result in the present or future:

[unreal/improbable condition] [result]
If I had more time, . . . I’d learn another language.
If I won the lottery, . . . I’d buy a house near the sea.
The second conditional – common mistakes
Common mistakes Correct version Why?
if I would have If I had enough money, I would buy a new computer. We use the past simple (I had) in the if-clause. It shows we are talking about something which is unlikely to happen or is an imaginary situation.
you will feel If you didn't hurry so much, you would feel more relaxed. The structure of the main clause is would + infinitive.

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Other practice exercises

Intermediate level: First vs. second conditional exercise >>