This type 2 second conditional is used to talk about the situation now, not in the past although we use the simple past tense in the if-clause. The situation we express is imaginary, unlikely or hypothetical, and is therefore unlikely to happen now or in the future. The second conditional uses the simple past tense in the if-clause and the present conditional in the main clause.
We use Type 2 conditional to describe:
1. an unlikely event or one that is not probable now.
- If we earned more money, we would buy a bigger house.
(We are not earning more money.)
- If my parents restored their broken relationship, I would be very happy.
(It's unlikely they will do that, at least not for the foreseeable future.)
2. a purely hypothetical situation.
- If I cooked like her, I would open a restaurant.
(I can't cook like her.)
- If she loved me, I would propose to her.
(I don't think she loves me.)
3. an imaginary situation that is unlikely to happen now or in the future.
- If I won the lottery, I would buy a luxury yacht.
- If I married her, I would be the happiest man alive.
4. what is absolutely impossible.
- If your father were alive, he would be very proud of what you are doing.
- If I were younger, I would do things differently.
(The condition beginning with ‘If ... were ... ’ is usually used for something that is impossible to fulfill as it is not real and will always remain unreal, so the subjunctive were is used.)
Second conditional and modal verb
|If + simple past tense
||could / would / might / should
|If you asked your grandmother,
||she would explain everything.
- If more police officers patrolled in the area, a lot of crime could be prevented.
- If you told him what happened, he might believe you.
- If we missed the last train, we should stay in an inn for the night.