Weblinks: Ifs and Wishes

You Tube Lesson on real and unreal conditional sentences in present, future and past: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-Np7dmvw0U

YouTube Lesson on stepping back when the situation is unreal:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vefS0B1DIY

Online Practice:

Wishes (present time steps back to past form)

IF (unreal conditions take a step back)

Like with reported speech, in unreal conditions – ifs and wishes – the verb tense takes a step back.

It’s present time, but past form.
It’s past time, but past perfect form.

Here’s the step-backs chart again 

In most cases, the step backs for reported speech and unreal conditions are the same.

With the IF clauses, it depends on whether you’re talking about a real situation or not. 

PART A: Zero and First conditional – step back only future to present

ZERO CONDITIONAL    Real conditions – facts, always true

If I’m sad, I call my sister.
When I need water, I get up and get some.
If the wind blows hard, the tree branches hit the house.
When it rains, water falls.

FIRST CONDITIONAL   Real conditions – present and future – a true thing may happen, but will only happen under that condition.

Only step back from future to present.  Other tenses stay normal.

Real condition: If you buy the milk, I’ll make the cake.  
Real possibility: If I get the job, I’ll be really happy.

If I work, I get paid.

Future:  If he gets home on time, we won’t miss the movie.  (“he gets” is future time, present form.  The main clause is in future time and form.  It’s the same as with time clauses.)



PART B: Second Conditional – Unreal conditions in present and future

SECOND CONDITIONAL   Unreal conditions step back in all tenses and two steps back in future (one for the if and one for the unreal – there will be a lesson on this next week).

The “if” clause takes a step back.  The main clause uses would or could plus base form.

If I had a car, I could pick you up.  (but I don’t so I can’t.  simple present time, simple past form)
If she were taking this class, I’d be able to practice with her.  (she isn’t, so I can’t.  present progressive meaning, past progressive form)  (**I’d=I would)
If you had come to the dealership with me, I would have a new car now.  (you didn’t, so I don’t.  simple past changes to past perfect in the “if” clause)

Unreal Ifs – present/future – Second Conditional

Unreal IF clauses take a step back like reported speech.

The step back lets the listener know that you think it is unreal, unlikely or impossible.

Example:  simple present

If I were you, I would see a doctor about that.  (I’m not you. This is an unreal condition).
If here were here, he could explain.  (He isn’t here.)

Example: simple past

If he had gone to the movie with me, we would be engaged now.  (he didn’t and so we aren’t.  In the “if” clause, the simple past steps back to past perfect)

Word Order
Like all adverb clauses, you can put the IF clause first or second.  When it is first, you use a comma.  When it is second you do not use a comma.

If my sister were living in California, I could see her more often.
I could see my sister more often if she were living in California.
Meaning:  she isn’t, so I can’t
Form: present continuous steps back to past continuous
**Note: BE in conditional is always “were” not “was” even with singular subjects.  If I were, If she were, If you were, If we were….


The IF clause steps back.  The main clause has would or could.

PART C: Third Conditional – Unreal Conditions in the Past

THIRD CONDITIONAL   Unreal conditions step back in all tenses.

The “if” clause takes a step back.  The main clause uses would have or could have plus the past participle.

If I had seen you yesterday, I certainly would have said hello. (I didn’t, so I didn’t.  simple past changes to past perfect in the “if” clause.  would have+past participle in the main clause)

If he hadn’t spend all the money, we could have gone on vacation.  (he did, so we couldn’t.  simple past moves to past perfect in the “if clause.  could have+past participle in the main clause.

Real situations/real conditions don’t step back except future to present.  It’s the same as with time clauses.  Future steps back to present, but the other tenses stay normal.

Time clause
Future:  When he gets home, we will eat.  (“he gets” is future time, present form.  The main clause is in future time and form.)
Past:  When he got home, we ate.  (“he got” is past time and past form – normal)

Unreal Ifs – THIRD Conditional

The THIRD Conditional is where the result is in past – would have/could have.  The IF part takes one step back and the main clause is in past.


Simple past changes to past perfect
If you had come to my party, you would have met my husband.
(you didn’t come, so you didn’t meet him.  Time is simple past.  The “would have” means that result is past, no longer an option.  would have + past participle)

present progressive changes to past continuous

If she were running yesterday morning, she wouldn’t have been at the cafe where I saw her!
(she wasn’t running – I know because I saw her somewhere else.  Not seeing her there is the unreal condition.)





and many more practice sites here: http://www.agendaweb.org/verbs/conditional-third-exercises.html

Conditional Exercise 1 “If” vs. “When”
Conditional Exercise 2 Present Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 3 Present Real Conditional and Present Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 4 Past Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 5 Past Real Conditional and Past Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 6 Present Unreal Conditional and Past Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 7 Future Real Conditional
Conditional Exercise 8 Future Real Conditional and Future Unreal Conditional
Conditional Exercise 9 Continuous Conditional Forms
Conditional Exercise 10 Mixed Conditionals
Conditional Exercise 11 “Were to” in Past, Present and Future






(if vs. unless) http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/9-7.html

(reported speech steps back) http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/reported-speech