Second conditionals part 2

Would and would, could, might, was or were

in the second conditional

          When we use the verb BE in the conditional clause we use WERE except in more informal, usually spoken, English when we can use WAS.

  • If I were you, I would buy a new car
  • Come on John, your car is dangerous! If I was you, I’d buy another one as quickly as possible


          An alternative to WOULD in the result clause is COULD or MIGHT

  • If you got a pay rise, you COULD buy a new car.
  • If we arrived home on time, we MIGHT go to the party.


          WOULD in the sense of being WILLING to do something can be an alternative in the conditional clause

  • If he would train better, he would play more regularly in the team (he doesn’t appear to be willing to train harder, so he won’t be selected for the team)
  • If she would get up earlier, she would have time to have breakfast before going to work (she doesn’t appear to be willing to get up earlier, so she goes to work without eating)


          Would in the conditional clause is not possible if it doesn’t refer to willingness

  • o    If I would be young, I would go running every day  (Strange – it’s impossible to be “willing” to be young!)
  • o    If he would have more work, he would get more money (strange)

Go to more lessons on CONDITIONALS here

May and Might instead of Will in First Conditional sentences

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