Are you studying more advanced English and want to take your communication to the next level? English speakers use second conditionals often.

There are many reasons to use second conditionals but you can start with one of the most common reasons: hypothetical situations. You'll learn to communicate better if you start with the basics.

What does "hypothetical" mean?

Hypothetical is used to describe an imaginary situation or an unlikely situation. We use the second conditional for things in the future that probably will not happen.

The meme below is an example of a hypothetical second conditional:

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Hypothetical Situations

There are two main hypothetical situations:

Imaginary Situations

These experiences could happen to most people in the future, but they're not happening right now.

For example:

  • Going on a trip to Europe

  • Having a party

  • Having a bigger house

Second conditional sentences with imaginary situations:

If I traveled to Europe, I would travel to Germany.

If I had a party tomorrow, I would invite ten people.

If I had a bigger house, I would need more decorations.

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Unlikely Situations

These experiences probably won't happen for most people.

For example:

  • Winning the lottery

  • Meeting an alien

  • Becoming president

  • Getting stuck on a desert island

Second conditional sentences with unlikely situations:

If I won the lottery, I would buy a yacht.

If I met an alien, I would run away.

I would give money to the poor if I became president.

I would eat coconuts if I got stuck on a desert island.

A man laughing in an office The text reads,


Which situation is NOT hypothetical for most people?

How to Form the Second Conditional

You can break a second conditional sentence into two parts:

Part A: If + simple past verb, Part B: would + base verb.

For example:

If I won the lottery, I would buy a mansion.

[Part A: If I won the lottery, Part B: I would buy a mansion.]

If it rained tomorrow, I would stay inside.

[Part A: If it rained tomorrow, Part B: I would stay inside.]

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You can change the order of the two parts to look like this:

Part A: Subject + would + base verb Part B: if + subject + simple past.

For example:

I would buy a mansion if I won the lottery.

[Part A: I would buy a mansion Part B: if I won the lottery.]

I would stay inside if it rained tomorrow.

[Part A: I would stay inside Part B: if it rained tomorrow.]

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When Part A comes first, use a comma in between Part A and Part B.

Ex: If it rained tomorrow, I would stay inside.

When Part B comes first, don’t use a comma.

Ex: I would stay inside if it rained tomorrow.


To make the second conditional negative, simply add "not" after "would" in the sentence.

If I won the lottery, I would not buy a mansion.

I would not buy a mansion if I won the lottery.

A man with glasses saying,


Select all the sentences below that form the second conditional:


Now that you have learned how to form the second conditional and how to use it for hypothetical situations, try to answer some for yourself.

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Complete the conditionals with your own answers

  1. If I was stuck on an island, I would ___________.

  2. I would stay inside if ____________.

  3. I would cry if __________.

  4. If I found treasure, I would _________.

  5. If I won the lottery, ______________.

  6. If I weren't sick, ________________.

  7. You would get an A+ if _______________.

  8. I would not buy this dress if ________________.

  9. If I had a bigger house, I would ___________.

  10. My family and I would have a party tomorrow if ___________.

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