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second conditional

Four friends, Alex, Lucy, Sam and Jo were sitting in a coffee bar and chatting, when the subject of their own faults came up in conversation.
   ‘I must admit,’ said Alex, ‘I sometimes use the company’s phone for private calls and I often steal office stationery from work when the boss isn’t looking. If my boss found out, I’d get fired.’
   ‘Well, I guess my greatest fault,’ Lucy told the group, ‘is that I gamble too much. I play online poker and I buy lottery tickets. My parents are really strict, and if they heard about it, I’d be in real trouble.
   ‘I don’t gamble,’ Sam said, ‘but I’d say that my worst fault is my drinking habit. I drink far too much.  If it ever got out, I’d lose my job.’
   Joe had been silent during the conversation, so Sam turned and asked him, ‘Well, Joe, do you have any faults, then?’
   ‘Oh, yes,’ said Joe, ‘and mine is worse than any of yours. My greatest fault is that I just can’t keep a secret.’

Grammar: second conditional

To talk about situations which are imaginary, you can use this form: if + past simple  in the first clause,  followed by would + verb in the second clause.

This structure is sometimes called the second conditional form.
If my parents found out about my gambling, they’d be furious.
If anyone heard about Sam’s drinking habits, he’d lose his job.

It’s also possible to change the order of the clauses, in this way:
I would buy a new car if I had the money.
This would be a good restaurant if the staff were more polite.

Match the broken sentences.

1.   If I knew his email address…
2.   If we could afford it…
3.   I wouldn’t tell your boss about it…
4.   If you went to bed earlier…
5.   I’d tell you…
A. wouldn’t be so tired.
B.   ...if I knew the answer.
C.   ...we’d buy a new car.
D.   ...I would write to him.
E.   ...if I were you.

Choose the correct form.

6       A. If his boss found out about Joe’s drinking habits he’d probably lose his job.
          B. If his boss would find out about Joe’s drinking habits he probably lost his job.

7       A. I went for a walk if it wouldn’t be raining so hard.
          B. I’d go for a walk if it weren’t raining so hard.

8       A. If you’d spoken more slowly people will be able to understand you better.
          B. If you’d speak more slowly people would be able to understand you better.

9       A. I came to the party if I wouldn’t have so much work to do.
          B. I’d come to the party if I didn’t have so much work to do.

10     A. This movie would be better if it were shorter.
          B. This movie were better if it would be shorter.

Vocabulary exercises

Choose a word to complete these sentences.

stationery           bar           habits           calls           tickets            poker

1.   I would never play online _________.
2.   It’s a waste of money to buy lottery _________.
3.   I’ll see you in the coffee _________.
4.   I never take home any office _________.  
5.   My boss doesn’t like us making private _________.  
6.   Tim needs to do something about his drinking _________.  

Choose a word to make the opposite expression.

fired             silent             strict             keep             private             admit

7.   This is a public area.                This is a _______ area.
8.   Claire is chatty today.                 Claire is _______ today.
9.   He will reveal your secrets.                He will _______ your secrets.
10. Her parents are easy-going.                Her parents are _______.
11.  Do you deny you made a mistake?                Do you _______ you made a mistake?
12. Tricia was promoted last week.                Tricia was _______ last week.


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