Introduction

Do you know how to use conditionals? Native English speakers use second and third conditionals when speaking and writing. In today’s lesson, you will learn how to use 2nd and 3rd conditional. You can also try this lesson on zero and 1st conditional.

What is a conditional?

A conditional is a type of sentence that has two parts: the IF CLAUSE and the MAIN CLAUSE. You can also call these two parts the CONDITION and RESULT.

IF CLAUSE = CONDITION

MAIN CLAUSE = RESULT

The IF CLAUSE can come first or second in the sentence.

BE CAREFUL! If you start a sentence with the IF CLAUSE, you need to use a comma between the clauses.

If it rains, we won’t play tennis.

We won’t play tennis if it rains.

IF CLAUSE = if it rains

MAIN CLAUSE = we won’t play tennis

Second Conditional

Zero Conditional Form

If + subject + past simple, subject + would + base form

  • Use second conditional for situations that are unlikely or imaginary
  • Second conditional is used for unreal situations in the present or future
  • Use this strucutre to give advice, make offers, suggestions or requests

Example

If I won the lottery, I would buy a bigger house.

I would buy a bigger house if I won the lottery.

Other forms for second conditionals

You can also use past continuous in the if clause.

If I were driving right now, I would be lost. (In reality, someone else is driving. You are imagining the situation as if you were driving.)

You can also use could or might in the main clause.

If I had more time, I might/could read more. (You don’t have more time, but you imagine that if you did, it’s possible that you might/could read more.)

Second Conditional Practice

Using the prompts, write sentences using the second conditional. The answers are at the end of this post.

Second Conditional Practice

Third Conditional

Third Conditional Form

If + subject + past perfect, subject + would have + past participle

  • Use 3rd conditional to imagine a different past – the opposite of what actually happened
  • Third conditional is used for unreal situations in the past
  • Use this structure for regrets and criticism

Example

If I had gone to the party, I would have seen you. (I didn’t go to the party and I didn’t see you.)

I‘d have seen you if I’d gone to the party. (BE CAREFUL! The contracted forms of would have had are both ‘d.)

Other forms for 3rd conditionals

You can also use could or might have instead of “would have

If I had heard the knock on the door, I could have/might have opened it. (could have and might have are less likely than would have.)

Third Conditional Practice

Complete the sentences using the pictures to help you. Possible answers are at the end of this post.

Third Conditional Practice 1

Grammar practice 2

Grammar practice 3

Grammar practice 4

Final Thoughts

Native speakers use conditionals all the time so make sure to practice them! For more practice try Perfect English Grammar.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!

Answers

Second Conditional Practice Answers

  1. She would be less tired if she went to bed earlier.
  2. If I had more money, I would take more vacations.
  3. If I were you, I wouldn’t go to the party.
  4. They would travel more if they were younger.
  5. If he talked less, they wouldn’t get annoyed.

Third Conditional Practice Possible Answers

  • If she had brought a snack, she wouldn’t have bought a hamburger.
  • If he had saved enough money, he could have gone on holiday last year.
  • I would have come to the party if I had found the perfect dress.
  • I would have called you if my phone hadn’t broken.

For more practice , try these lessons:

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