Present unreal conditionals


Present unreal conditionals indicate a situation which is only imagined or in some-one's mind. For instance:

    I wish I had a pony.

    If I had a pony, I would ride it every day.

    (I don’t really have a pony.)

    (I imagine what I would do.)

To form present unreal conditionals, use past tense in the if clause and would + verb in the main clause.

A: What would you do if you had a million dollars?

B: If I had a million dollars, I would invest it in the stock market.

A: What would you do if you didn’t have to come to school today?

B: If I didn’t have to come to school, I would go to the amusement park.


For present unreal conditionals, it is common to use were in place of all forms of “be” in the if clause (regardless of the subject).

If I were you, I would get a lawyer.

If I were a lawyer, I would not charge you.

If she were a lawyer, Sheila would be rich.


Sometimes could can be used in place of would in the main clause:

If I had more free time, I could travel around the world.

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