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Past Unreal Conditionals: Grammar notes and examples

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by M. André Ramos Chacón on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of Past Unreal Conditionals: Grammar notes and examples


Past unreal Conditional Thank you for your attention! Second Conditional
Present Unreal Third Conditional
Past Unreal When do we use it? To talk about improbable or hypothetical situations

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

To give advice.

If I were you, I wouldn’t do that. FORM IF+ simple past,+ would +Verb basic form
(if clause) (result clause)

If he played better, he would be on the school team.
He would be on the school team if he played better. If she had more time today, she would meet her friends for lunch.



If this penguin talked, he would probably
tell humans to stop changing the climate. The verb be The verb “be” becomes “were” in the present conditional. If she were a businesswoman, she would work in an office. If I were you, I wouldn’t wear jeans to the job interview. When do we use it? Like present unreal conditionals , past conditionals are used to talk about things that are contrary to reality, or to to talk about imaginary situations in the past. You can describe what you would have done differently or how something could have happened differently if circumstances had been different.

This conditionals are the only type which refer to the past. They are used to speculate about how thins might have been different:

If I you had studied, you wouldn’t have failed your exam. FORM If + past perfect,+ would have+ Past Participle
(if clause) (result clause)

If he had played better, he would have been on the school team.

He would have been on the school team if he had played better. If I had had enough money, I would have bought a car.

If I had had enough money, I could have bought a car.





If he had had enough time yesterday, he would have gone to the park.





If he had watched the road, he wouldn’t have crashed. Jim doesn’t study hard. If he (study)__studied__ harder, he (get) __would get better grades.

The weather isn’t nice. I (take) __________ a walk if the weather (be) ____________.

My wife and I want to buy a house, but houses are too expensive. We (buy) _____________ a house if we (have) _______________enough money.

If I (have to go, not) ____________________to class today, I (go)_________________ shopping.

If I (be)______________ you, I (study) _____________ for the test. 1. If I (have) _________________ enough money last night, I (go) ___________________ to a show.

2. If she (come) __________________ to my party, she (meet) __________________ my fiancé.

3. If it (be, not) ________________ cold yesterday, I (go) __________________ swimming. Examples of first conditional
Real Conditional If I have time, I write to my parents every week.

If I have time today , I will visit my grandma.

If the weather is nice, we will go to the movies.

I will buy a laptop if I get the new job.

I will go to the concert with Sara if she wants to go with me. ` These sentences describe situations
THAT NEVER HAPPENED, THAT NEVER
OCCURED.
The IF clause presents the unreal condition, and the result clause presents the unreal result of that condition.
1. If he had died young, he wouldn't have had any children.
(But he didn't die young, so he had children)
2. If Columbus hadn't discovered America, the Incan empire wouldn't have been conquered.
(But Columbus discovered America, so the Incan empire was conquered).
3. If I had studied for the Midterm exam, I would have gotten a perfect grade.
(but I didn't study for the Midterm exam, so I got a bad grade). THE PAST UNREAL CONDITIONAL:

Affirmative sentences:
IF CLAUSE: PAST PERFECT ; RESULT CLAUSE: WOULD HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
If I had had money, I would have bought a car.

Negative sentences:
IF CLAUSE: PAST PERFECT ; RESULT CLAUSE: WOULD NOT HAVE + PAST PARTICIPLE
If I hadn't eaten so much, I wouldn't have gotten sick.
(But I ate a lot, and I got sick).
I wouldn't have gotten sick if I hadn't eaten so much.

Questions:
Yes/no: RESULT CLAUSE; IF CLAUSE
Would you have traveled if you had had money?
Wh-question: RESULT CLAUSE; IF CLAUSE
What would you have done if you had had money? Past unreal conditionals are often used to EXPRESS REGRET about what really happened in the past.

If I had studied for my exam, I would have gotten a good grade.
(I regret that I didn't study)

If I hadn't cheated on my girlfriend, she wouldn't have left me.
(I regret that I cheated on my girlfriend).

You can also use WISH followed by a verb in the PAST PERFECT to express regret or sadness about things in the past that you wanted (or not) to happen, but didn't (or did).

Juan wishes he had studied architecture
(Juan didn't study architecture, and now he thinks that was
a mistake)

She wishes she hadn't gotten drunk
(but she got drunk, and now she feels sad about that).
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