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1. Form

In a Type 2 conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if’ clause is the simple past, and the tense in the main clause is the present conditional:

If + simple past
If it rained
If you went to bed earlier
Present conditional
you would get wet
you wouldn’t be so tired.

Present conditional, form

The present conditional of any verb is composed of two parts – the modal auxiliary would + the infinitive of the main verb (without ‘to’.)

Subject would infinitive without to
She would learn
I would go
I wouldn’t ask
Would she come?
Interrogative negative    
Wouldn’t they accept?


Would: Contractions of would

In spoken English, would is contracted to ‘d.

I’d We’d
you’d you’d
he’d, she’d they’d

The negative contraction = wouldn’t.

Example: to accept, Present conditional

Affirmative Negative Interrogative
I would accept I wouldn’t accept Would I accept?
You would accept You wouldn’t accept Would you accept?
He would accept She wouldn’t accept Would he accept?
We would accept We wouldn’t accept Would we accept?
You would accept You wouldn’t accept Would you accept?
They would accept They wouldn’t accept Would they accept?

2. Function

In these sentences, the time is now or any time, and the situation is unreal. They are not based on fact, and they refer to an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result. The use of the past tense after ‘if’ indicates unreality. We can nearly always add a phrase starting with “but”, that expresses the real situation:

  • If the weather wasn’t so bad, we would go to the park (…but it is bad, so we can’t go)
  • If I was the Queen of England, I would give everyone £100. (...but I’m not, so I won’t)

Examples of use:

1. To make a statement about something that is not real at present, but is possible:

I would visit her if I had time. (= I haven’t got time but I might have some time)

2. To make a statement about a situation that is not real now and never could be real:

If I were you, I’d give up smoking (but I could never be you)


a. If I was a plant, I would love the rain.
b. If you really loved me, you would buy me a diamond ring.
c. If I knew where she lived, I would go and see her.
d. You wouldn’t need to read this if you understood English grammar.
e. Would he go to the concert if I gave him a ticket?
f. They wouldn’t invite her if they didn’t like her
g. We would be able to buy a larger house if we had more money

NOTE: It is correct, and very common, to say “If I were” instead of “If I was“.


June 13, 2008 - Posted by | Learn English - Tenses

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