Second and Third Conditional Sentences

English If Clauses Type 2 and Type 3, Second and Third Conditional Sentences


Second and Third Conditional Sentences

Table of Contents

Second Conditional


If Clause Type 2 is used to think of the opposite of an event that is happening in the present or in the future, to put forward a condition and to express the result of this imaginary condition. Therefore, the tense that we can use must be a bit more past than the tense that we will use to express the truth. So, that is like to use; would instead of will, did instead of do, could instead of can. It is often used to express wishes and desires for the past.

Example Sentences;

  • I have to work tomorrow, so I can’t come to the amusement park. (Future)
  • If I were you, I would want to be a doctor. ( but I am not you)
  • If I understood what the teacher said, I could tell you. ( but I don’t understand )
  • If she weren’t ill, she would go to the school. ( but she is ill )
  • If I were a chairman, I would offer new and different ideas. ( but I am not chairman)
  • If you participated in the election, people would choose you. ( but you don’t participate )
  • If I didn’t have to work, I would come to the amusement park with you. (Although past tense is used, meaning is future time.)

Structures that we can use in the basic sentence;

1-Would and would be doing
  • If I were rich, I would travel around the world with you.


2-Would be able to, could, might and would have to
  • If I knew some Spanish, I could help you with your Spanish assignment now.
  • If tomorrow weren’t a holiday, we couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to go to the cinema together.


Structures that can be used in conditional sentence;

1- Past form of “be” (was/were)

The verb “be” is in the form of “were” for all subjects. For the subjects;  I, he, she, it, the “was“ format can also be used.

  • If it were wet now, we couldn’t go out for a walk. (meaning;present)
  • If they were out of town next week, your parent would/ could visit them. (meaning;future)


2- Past Tense

When meaning is present or future, past tense is used.

  • If my mother knew that I’d come back from holiday, she would come to see me tonight. (meaning;present)
  • If you came to my party tomorrow, I would be very happy. (meaning;future)


3-Past Continuous Tense (was/were doing)

We can use was / were doing if we are constructing a conditional statement considering the reverse of an ongoing action.

  • If the baby weren’t sleeping now, I would go out with you.

4-Could and had to
  • If I didn’t have to stay home to look after the children, I would come to the theatre.


5- Should

In Type 2, using ‘should’ emphasizes that the proba


Third Conditional


In If Clauses Type 3, it is used to reverse the events that occurred in the past, to put forward a condition and to express the result of that condition. It is usually used for sentences that express complaints.

Example Sentences;

  • If I had studied hard enough, I would have passed the math exam.
  • If the student had listened to the teacher carefully, he would have answered the questions easily. ( but he didn’t )
  • If my daugter had seen this toys, she probably would have wanted me to buy them. ( but she didn’t see them)
  • If I had guessed the future, I would have taken some precautions againist what would happen. ( but I didn’t guess)
  • If she had found his phone number, she might have called him for the party. ( but she didn’t find it)
  • If I could have spoken english very well, I would have talked to the tourists in Paris. ( but I couldn’t)
  • If he had been good at math, he would have got a high score from the exam last week. ( but he wasn’t good at)
  • If we had had the necessary ingredients for a cake, we could have made a cake. ( but we didn’t have)
  • If I had been a smart boy, I would not have annoyed my mother. ( but I wasn’t a smart boy)
  • If Marry had had a meeting, she would have gone to the Office. ( but she didn’t have a meeting)
  • If I had waited for you more, I would have missed the plane. ( but I didn’t wait )
  • If she had gone on a picnic, she would have had a lot of fun. ( but she didn’t go)

Structures that we can use in the basic sentence;

1-Would have done and would have been doing
  • If he had worn a coat, he wouldn’t have caught a cold.
  • If she had started to work earlier, he wouldn’t have still been working at midnight.


2-Would have been able to and would have had to
  • If your friend had helped me with the presentation, I wouldn’t have had to work on it until midnight.
  • If I hadn’t run to the bus stop, I wouldn’t have been able to catch the bus.


3-Might have done (possibility) and could have done (permission and ability)
  • If your boyfriend had been well-qualified, he might have been considered for the post.
  • If he hadn’t learnt all the prepositions by heart, I couldn’t have done well on the test.


Structures that can be used in conditional statement;

1-Past Perfect Tense
  • If there had been enough people, we would have started the meeting.


2-Past Perfect Continuous (had been doing)
  • If I had been wearing my seat belt at the time of the accident, I wouldn’t have got so badly injured.
  • If she hadn’t been sleeping when I got home, I could have given her the news.


3-Had had to and  had been able to
  • If I hadn’t had to work on my office last night, I could have watch my favourite movie.
  • If they hadn’t been able to persuade their landlady, she wouldn’t have paid for the burst pipe in the bathroom.