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Lesson Thirteen

The Present Conditional


The present conditional describes a situation now that isn't true or isn't happening. Teachers also call this the present unreal or present contrary-to-fact.


If I had a million dollars, I would give it away to all my friends.

"If I had a million dollars" is in the past tense, but it describes a possible situation (or impossible situation) in the present.

"I would give it away to all my friends" tells the outcome of the condition. You can use "would," "could," "might," or "should" in these kinds of sentences.

This next sentence uses the verb "be" in the present conditional:

I wouldn't do that if I were you.

Well, I'm not you, so this describes a situation that is not true. Notice that "were" is used with "i." Isn't that strange? But it's correct.

Note: Some teachers refer to this as "the second conditional."

Click on the video below:



Here are some more examples:

If she had more time today, she could meet her friends for lunch.

(The situation is present, but notice the use of "had," the past tense of "have." This means that she doesn't have time.

If I knew how to sing, I could probably make a little money playing guitar on the weekends.

(But I'm not very good at singing while playing guitar. Perhaps I'll get better with practice. -- The past tense of know is knew)

If this penguin could talk, he would probably tell us human beings to stop changing the climate.

(A penguin can't talk but if it could...... The past tense of can talk is could talk)


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Are you ready for a quiz?

We study the past conditional in the next lesson.

Next: Lesson 14












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