Second Conditional Exercises (With Printable PDF)

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Danielle McLeod

Danielle McLeod is a highly qualified secondary English Language Arts Instructor who brings a diverse educational background to her classroom. With degrees in science, English, and literacy, she has worked to create cross-curricular materials to bridge learning gaps and help students focus on effective writing and speech techniques. Currently working as a dual credit technical writing instructor at a Career and Technical Education Center, her curriculum development surrounds student focus on effective communication for future career choices.

In the English language, there are four types of conditional sentence structure. These relate to tenses concerning things that might have occurred, could have occurred, or will occur if certain conditions exist.

The second conditional sentence tense use is often the most confusing to those learning the English language. It is used to express unrealistic actions or situational consequences in the present and future tense.

Let’s review this and then practice its use in three different second conditional exercises.

Second Conditional Sentences Explained

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Second conditional tenses are tricky because they deal with untruths that could become a reality if, and only if, certain circumstances exist. However, the probability of those circumstances existing is next to zero.

These sentences deal with the future. 

To better understand what a second conditional sentence is explaining, think of it in this manner:

  • Use the second conditional sentence to describe dreams concerning possible situations and how you might act if they came true. Also, use this sentence structure to explain imaginary situations.

For example:

  • If I had a million dollars tomorrow, I would quit my job.
  • If I married a movie star, I would create my own reality television series.

These sentences highlight an improbability (the first clause of the sentence), followed by a clause describing what could be possible if the first clause came true.

How to Structure a Second Conditional Sentence

A second conditional sentence is always constructed using an “if clause” and a “main clause” consisting of a would or wouldn’t statement. You can interchange the order of the clauses as well as long as the sentence structure remains grammatically correct.

For example:

  • If I lived on a ranch, I would quit my job and raise horses for a living.
  • I’d quit my job and raise horses for a living if I lived on a ranch.

The word “would” ( or wouldn’t) can also be replaced with the word “could” (or couldn’t) when the main clause comes second. “Could” cannot be used when the main clause is placed first because it makes the sentence an actual possibility rather than an improbable scenario.

For example:

  • If I lived on a ranch, I could quit my job and raise horses for a living.

Exceptions Concerning the Verb “to be”

When using the verb “to be” in a second conditional tense, the past form is always were, not was, in reference to the subjects I, he, she, and it. Was is often used in informal writing or slang speech, but formal scenarios require were.

For example:

  • If I were retired, I would move to Europe and lay on a beach all day.
  • If she were my supervisor, I would walk off the job.

Using the Second Conditional Tense to Create Polite Requests

The second conditional sentence structure also lends itself well to polite requests, making this scenario the sole exception to the above rule that they are unrealistic.

For example:

  • Would you mind if we borrowed these chairs during lunch?
  • If I come after class, would you help me write my essay?
Second Conditional Exercise #1

Second Conditional Exercise #1

Choose the correct sentence that expresses a second conditional tense.

Which is correct?
Which is correct?
Which is correct?
Which is correct?
Which is correct?
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Second Conditional Exercise #2

Second Conditional Exercise #2

Choose the correct second conditional verb form to complete the sentences.

If I were you, I ________ that.
If Lily ________ understand the lecture, she would communicate her frustration.
If I had a rich aunt, ________ with her in a mansion.
If these windows _________ thicker, we wouldn’t feel the cold every time the wind blew.
If his eyes weren’t so close together, I _________ attracted to him.
If she _________ all the information, she would share it with him.
Jonathon ________ that if he didn’t mean it.
If her uncle hadn’t bought her a car, she ________ so much.
I ______ pick up all the groceries and deliver them if I owned a car.
I ________ on a cruise through the Mediterranean if I retired early.
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Second Conditional Exercise #3

Second Conditional Exercise #3

Complete each second conditional question using the verbs in brackets.
Example: She ________________ [pass] the test if she ________________ [study] harder.
Answer: would pass, studied
Add a comma to separate two answers.

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