Do you know how to use conditionals in English? 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 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
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.
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
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.
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!
Second Conditional Practice Answers
- She would be less tired if she went to bed earlier.
- If I had more money, I would take more vacations.
- If I were you, I wouldn’t go to the party.
- They would travel more if they were younger.
- 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: