The Second Conditional uses if with the past simple, then ‘would’ and the verb:
if + past simple, …would + verb
Would +verb if past simple
The Second Conditional is considered UNREAL and there are two reasons to use the Second Conditional.
First, we can use it to talk about something in the future (even though we are using the simple past) that probably isn’t going to happen (wishful thinking).
- If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house.(I probably won’t win the lottery)
- If I met the George Clooney, I would say hello. (Unlikely, since I live in Brazil)
- He would pass the exam if she studied more.(He isn’t going to study, so this won’t happen)
- You wouldn’t be so tired if you went to bed earlier. (You never go to bed early, so unlikely)
Second, we can use it to talk about something in the present (even though we are using the simple past) which is impossible, because it’s not true.
- If I had his number, I would call him. (I don’t have his number now, so it’s impossible for me to call him).
- If I were you, I wouldn’t go out tonight. (I’m not you, obviously)
- If I knew where she lived, I would go and see her. (I don’t know where she lives)
- If he really loved you, he’d buy you a diamond ring. (Look’s like he doesn’t love you!)
- If the weather wasn’t so bad, we would go to the park. (But the weather is bad so we can’t go.)
- If I were the Queen of England, I would give everyone a chicken. (But I am not the Queen.)
Let’s compare The First Conditional and The Second Conditional?
The Second Conditional is different from the first conditional because it refers to a situation that is a lot more unlikely.
If I had enough money I would buy a Ferrari (I’m probably not going to have this much money, so it’s not very real)
If I have enough money, I’ll buy some new books.(Much more likely)