Type 2 conditional sentences in English

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type 2 conditional sentence
type 2 conditional sentence

This lesson helps you understand what a second conditional sentence in English is and how to use it correctly.

Type 2 conditional sentence infographic
Type 2 conditional sentence infographic

What is a Type 2 conditional sentence in English?

A type 2 conditional sentence, also known as the second conditional sentence, refers to a condition (situation) that is impossible or unlikely to be true (in the present), and its result in the present or near future (very close to the present). We employ second conditional sentences when we want to talk about something that is opposite to reality. It refers to an unlikely or impossible situation in the present or the near future.

A type 2 conditional sentence has two clauses: a conditional clause and a result clause.

The conditional clause refers to a situation that’s not true in the present (the speaker wishes if it was true) and the result clauses refer to the outcome of the condition clauses in the near future (almost present). The condition clause uses a subjunctive verb (were) or the past form of an action verb, and the result clause uses the verb phrase ‘would + V1’.

Possible structures:

  • (If + subject + were + subject complement) + (Subject + would + V1)
  • (If + subject + V2) + (Subject + would + V1)

Note: the order of the clauses can be reversed too. The result clause can come in the beginning either.

Examples:

  • If I were the PM of India, I would give every student a laptop for free.
    (Reality: I am not the PM of India, and I can’t and won’t give every student a free laptop.)
  • If Jon were alive, he would love to see us on the big screen.
    (Reality: Jon isn’t alive, and he can’t see us play on the big screen.)
  • We would travel the world if we had a lot of money.
    (Reality: We aren’t rich, and we won’t be travelling the world.)
  • If I had her number, I would give it to you.
    (Reality: I can’t give her number to you as I don’t have it.)
  • If you studied well, you would pass the test.
    (Reality: You don’t study well, and you will not pass the test.)
  • If my parents weren’t at home, I would definitely come to the party.
    (Reality: I won’t come to the party as my parents are at home.)
  • If I were you, I wouldn’t take the offer.
    (Explanation: I am imagining a certain response or a course of action in a hypothetical situation (in the present).)

More examples:

  • If I were a doctor, her parents would let us see each other.
  • We wouldn’t have to wait if John were here.
  • If it weren’t so cold, we would have dinner outside.
  • I wouldn’t talk to him even if he apologized to me.
  • Would you marry her if her parents said yes?
  • Would you leave this company if someone offered you more money?
  • If you talked to people politely, people wouldn’t leave you.
  • If I found a car under 300K INR, I would sell my car and buy it.
  • If he weren’t my boss, I would slap him.
  • If you actually loved her, you would let her study.
  • If I were there, I would take you to the temple.
  • Would you say yes if she proposed to you?
  • I’d come with you if my hand weren’t broken.
  • I’d help you if I carried any money.

We can use a modal verb (can/could/may/might) in the result clause here to show the probability or the degree of certainty.

  • She could join us if she came back
  • If you taught her, she might pass the exam.
  • He may help us if he had money.

All usages of a type 2 conditional sentence

1. To give advice

One of the most common usages of a type 2 conditional sentence is to give someone advice, imagining yourself in their situation. Study the following examples to understand it better.

  • If I were you, I wouldn’t hide this from my father.
    (You are hiding something from your father, and I advise you not to do it.)
  • If we were you, we would take the offer.
    (We advise you to take the offer. Note that you, in the context, are not going to take the offer. Generally, the person you give advice to using this conditional is going to do the opposite. It is also possible that the person hasn’t made up their mind and wants to hear from you.)
  • If I were you, I would not leave this job and go for higher education.
    (Meaning: Don’t leave your job and go for higher education.)

2. To give the reason for a situation

Here, we justify a present situation by laying down a condition and its result. Let’s say you asked me to come to your place, and I said I can’t make it. Now, I can give reasons why I can’t come. We do this by talking about the hypothetical situation in which it’s possible.

Situation: I can’t come to your place.
Justification: If my parents weren’t outside, I would come to your place.

The above sentence lays down the reason why I can’t come. Also, it shows the scenario in which it’s possible.

Situation: I won’t work in your company.
Justification: I’d work in your company if Shruti weren’t working there.

Situation: I will lend you some money.
Justification: If I didn’t have enough money, I wouldn’t lend you some.

This is the reason why I will lend you some money.

3. To make a polite request or check if someone is okay with you or someone doing something (permission)

It is common to use the type 2 conditional sentence to politely make requests or check if someone is okay with something (action).

Examples:

  • Would you mind if I used your laptop for a day? (Taking permission)
  • Would you be bothered if I asked you to move a little? (Request)
  • Would it be a problem if we asked you to take a picture of us? (Request)
  • Would you have a problem if we changed our seats? 
  • Would you mind if we offered your parents to have tea with us? (Taking permission)

4. To dream about a situation that is impossible or unlikely in the present or the near future

We all fancy things. We all have dreams. Some are beyond our reach, but we all like to imagine if they were achievable. Using a type 2 conditional sentence is a way to think about something that is not real or possible for you.

Examples:

  • If I had a lot of money, I would buy a lot of cars. (You know this isn’t your real situation. You neither have a lot of money, nor are you going to buy a lot of cars. You’re just imagining its possibility in a certain condition.)
  • If I studied in an English school, I would be fluent in English. (You are not fluent in English, and you probably think you can’t learn it right now.)
  • If I were tall and handsome, she would go out with me. (I know I am not tall and handsome, and she will not go out with me. I am just dreaming about the best scenario in which this is possible.)

Affirmative sentences

In affirmative sentences, both the conditional clause and the result clause have to be positive. Study the following examples:

  • She would be furious if she saw you here.
  • If you had a nice car, she would hang out with you.

Negative sentences

In a negative type 2 conditional sentence, both or either one of the two clauses has to be negative.

Possible structures:

  1. Negative conditional clause + positive result clause
  2. Positive conditional clause + negative result clause
  3. Negative conditional clause + negative result clause

Note that the order of the clauses can be reversed.

Examples

  • If I weren’t your brother, they would take me in their team. (1)
  • Jon would get his case fought by Monica if she weren’t in London. (1)
  • You wouldn’t get the entry if you they saw you with a dog. (2)
  • If the company offered me anything less than a million dollars, I wouldn’t take it. (2)
  • He would not sold his car if he didn’t need money. (3)
  • If you weren’t his partner, you wouldn’t be dragged into this case. (3)

Interrogative sentences

Interrogative sentences, here in a type 2 conditional sentence, are used when you want to make a request or want to know how someone would do in a certain hypothetical situation.

Examples:

  • Would it be okay with you if I parked my car in front of your car?
  • Would you mind if I closed the window?
  • Would she be bothered if I called her?
  • How would you react if she told you father your secrets?
  • Would you take me in your team if I passed the test?

Lessons you must check out:

Now you know what a type 2 conditional sentence is and how and when to use it correctly in English. Do share the post with others to help them and ask your questions or doubts in the comment section.

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