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Second Conditional Real Past Bookmark and Share

Grammar - information and contents

This exercise practises the use of the "second conditional" to express the real past. This is a conditional that looks like an impossible or unlikely conditional, but is really a true situation from the past. In these situations if can be replaced by when without changing the meaning. Look at the examples and then read the sentences and decide which sentences are more likely to be past situations and can also take when, type A, and which can only be unlikely/impossible, type B.

A: Past situation: If the weather was nice we would go out for a walk.

B: Impossible/unlikely: If I had £1 million I would buy a big house. 

1. If people were more interested in the political situation, we would have a better government.

2. If we had nothing else to do we would just go to the pub for a drink.

3. I would never buy a car if I couldn't drive it first.

4. If I had a million pounds I'd certainly buy a villa in Portugal.

5. If the temperature dropped to 10 degrees Celsius below zero, we would go home from school.

6. If I could meet the Prime Minister I would tell him what he was doing wrong.

7. If everyone arrived early the lesson could start on time.

8. If our dog started barking we knew that there was someone at the door.

9. What would you do if the buses weren't running? Would you walk?

10. I would never do well in a test if I didn't study the night before.

© Marc Loewenthal,, 2000-2012