- If I Was You Vs. If I Were You
The second conditional, also known as type II if-clause, is used to imagine that the present is different to how it really is. It is also known as the unreal conditional because it refers to unlikely or imaginary possibilities.
If I won the lottery, I would go on the round-the-world trip.
Here, we use the second conditional to imagine things that would happen if one wins a lottery.
Rule 1: To form the second conditional, we use a past tense for the if-clause, and would + infinitive for the main clause. If and would never appear in the same clause.
If I managed to go on vacation this summer, I would be much more relaxed.
The if-clause uses the past tense (I managed), and the main clause uses would + infinitive (would be).
I wouldn't be so tired today if I had decent sleep last night.
In conditional sentences one or both classes can be negative. Here, the main clause uses the negative form of would + infinitive (wouldn't be), and the if-clause uses the past tense (I had).
Note: We can reverse the order of the clauses with no change in meaning. But, if the if-clause comes first, it should be separated by a comma. If the main clause is first, we don't need a comma.
Rule 2: We can use the modal verbs could (to introduce the idea of ability) and might (to express a possibility) instead of would. We do not use should in the second conditional.
If you had more experience in the field, looking for job opportunities might be easier.
Here, we use might + infinitive for the main clause instead of would.
Rule 3: We can use the second conditional for giving advice.
If I were you, I would apply for the international internship program.
Second conditional is used to desctibe what one would do if they were in other person's shoes.
Rule 4: We can use the second conditional to ask hypothetical questions.
Where would you go first if you were on the Europe trip?
The second conditional's main clause can be a question. It is formed by placing the verb would in front of the subject (you) and followed by the infinitive (go).
Rule 5: We can use the second conditional to imagine life as different.
If I had a sister, I would try to be her best friend.
In reality, the speaker doesn't have a sister.
Rule 6: We can use the second conditional for making excuses.
I'm sorry I can't be there, I would visit you if I hadn't have to work.
Here, we use the second conditional to express an excuse for not being somewhere due to work responsibilities.
If I Was You Vs. If I Were You
Rule 7: We can use were instead of was with the I, he, she and it forms when we use the verb be in the second conditional. Although the meaning doesn't change, were is sometimes considered more formal than was.
If it were possible, I would read every book in the world.
Were is used with it instead of was without changing the initial meaning of the clause.
Choose the correct option to form the second conditional. If I had a million dollars, I would ___ a house.