Hey there! This is TOP episode 40: The Second Conditional

My name’s Ola and I am an English teacher.

This podcast is for you if you’re an English learner who wants to speak English with more confidence and get rid of speaking barriers. It’s time you started speaking English fearlessly! Go to my website for full transcripts and worksheets to each episode. Happy learning! 

Hello and welcome to another episode dealing with grammar. Thank you so much for choosing this podcast. If this is the first episode you’ve ever heard from me, let me just tell you that the aim of TeacherOlaPodcast is to help you start speaking English with confidence. 

I am absolutely sure it all starts in your save place, right? So first, you need to start speaking to yourself before you move on any further. That’s why every episode or at least 99% of them include a practical part. I give you sentences to memorise and repeat during the episode. Don’t leave it for later. Repeat out loud. Right now.

Grammar is not the priority, communication is. Nevertheless, understanding grammatical structures gives you that boost of confidence. You strive for it, doesn’t it? Understanding conditional sentences allows you to make longer sentences. And that my friend makes you sound more natural. There are two more episodes on conditionals. You’ll find the links in the show notes to this episode at teacherola.com/40.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the second conditional. 

In today’s episode, you’ll learn what a second conditional sentence looks and sounds like.  You’ll learn how to create a correct second conditional sentence. We’re going to look at the situations in which the second conditional is used. How to give advice with second conditional, how to ask hypothetical questions, how to form requests, how to make excuses.  Example sentences for repeating for you will be there throughout the whole episode.

The second conditional is sometimes referred to as a present unreal conditional. It describes a hypothetical situation which doesn’t take place now. It might happen in the future, but as for now, it’s impossible. 

If I had a dog, I would take it for a walk.

Now I have no dog, no pet, in fact, co I can’t take it anywhere. Maybe in the future, I’ll have a dog. It’s possible. But, since we ‘re talking about the present, I have to say: If I had a dog, I would take it for a walk. Please repeat:

If I had a dog, I would take it for a walk.

The second conditional, like any other type of a conditional sentence, contains of two parts. There is an if-clause and there is a main-clause or a result-clause. The condition and the result. These two elements, these two events are connected. The condition must happen first. 

Now. How to construct the second conditional sentence.

If I lived in Teneriffe, I would eat more fruit.

I don’t live on Teneriffe, but If I did, I would eat more fruit. ‘I would eat more fruit’ is an imaginary result. It’s not happening now, but maybe in the future? Who knows?

The structure. The structure is:

If + past simple, would + verb

Your turn:

If I lived in Teneriffe, I would eat more fruit. 

Normally people speak fast. It’s not always easy to hear the word ‘would’ clearly pronounced. Actually, ‘would’ is often contracted into just ’d. So I would would sound: I’d. I’d eat more fruit. Repeat after me:

If I could leave my flat, I’d go cycling. 

I really would. Being quarantined is getting more and more difficult. 

But.  Coming back to conditionals. You can change the order of the two clauses. Listen and repeat:

I would listen to the news more If I had a TV.

Can you make the clauses negative? Yes, you can. Let’s practice:

If I were you, I wouldn’t make that decision.

If I didn’t know this recipe, I would be miserable.

If I didn’t work, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time at the computer.

Ok. That’s all about the structure of the second conditional. Let’s now have a look at the situation in real life, few situations in real life when you might use it.

Use the second conditional when you’re imagining things. Different life. For example, and let’s practice:

If I could play the piano, I would play in a band.

If I had a cabin in the mountains, I would spend lots of time there.

You would be healthier if you didn’t eat junk food.

The second conditional comes in handy when you want to give advice.

For example. Or, maybe before I show you examples let me explain one thing. If I were you. So it’s not ‘If I was you’. No, no, no. That doesn’t sound nice and it’s incorrect. If I were you. Please repeat out loud:

If I were you, I would call the doctor.

If I were you, I’d tell the truth.

If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.

I would search for the answer If I were you.

If you were to remember only one thing from the entire episode, please remember this one: ‘If I were you’. Please remember it. It’s ok to say ‘If I was him’, ‘If I was her’, ‘If she was here’, and so on, however, it’s so informal it sounds as if it was a mistake. Ok? So the exception is ‘If I were you’. It’s fixed. Never use ‘If I was you’. If I were you’.

Use the second conditional to make polite requests. Listen and repeat:

It would be great if you could help me with the shopping.

It would be great if you could call when you’re ready.

Ok. Now. Making excuses, or just giving reasons why or why not. Using the second conditional instead of saying simply ‘no’ bluntly is just more polite. 

I would drive you to work if I had a driving licence.

I would gladly help you with this project if I had more time.

I would learn English more If I didn’t have to work so much.

I would practice speaking English If I weren’t so busy.

One more thing. Hypothetical questions. Use the second conditional to make them. Some of them are quite popular in job interviews. Listen and repeat:

If you were a movie character, which character would you be?

What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

What would you do if you were a president? 

You can also use a modal verb ‘could’ in the second conditional.

If you could go back in time for a day, how would you spend it?

Awesome! Here you have it. And thanks for staying with me till the end of this episode.  I hope it helped you with understanding the second conditional.

Teacherola.com/40, there you’ll find a full transcript as well as the worksheet. It’s free at teacherola.com/40.

If you think this podcast is valuable, share your opinion in the comment at teacherola.com/40 and tell your friends about me. 

In the next episode, we will focus on pronunciation. We’re going to practice one sound.  Subscribe my podcast to make sure you won’t miss it. 

Thank you for listening and till next time! Happy learning. Bye!