English Grammar Lessons: Conditional Verbs Type 2 And 3
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Audio Transcript: English grammar lessons: Conditional Verbs Type 2 And 3
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A method to try to help grammar ‘stick’
Now many of you who take English grammar lessons probably find English grammar difficult, tricky, not easy. It’s often the least favourite lesson when you learn grammar in the traditional way, with books, exercises and sample sentences. So English grammar lessons are often done with an emphasis on reading and writing. But, if you want to be able to speak English fluently, then acquiring a feel for correct grammar, through repeated listening is the better method. If I say to you ‘You is very quick’ or ‘We am going for a swim’ or ‘I are very tired’, you probably know the verb ‘to be’ well enough, that those sentences make you go ‘Ooh’.
That’s wrong! The same, I imagine, if you hear someone making a mistake with grammar in your language. It’s ‘Ouch!’ You become so used to hearing the language that anything incorrect stands out. So those incorrect sentences again? ‘You is very quick’ should be ‘You are very quick’. ‘We am going for a swim’ should be ‘We are going for a swim’ and ‘I are very tired’ should be ‘I am very tired’. So hopefully that illustrates the idea. If you hear the correct grammar enough times, the correct grammar comes automatically when you speak – and anything incorrect just sounds wrong. So let’s continue our work today on English grammar lessons, and do the 2nd part of Conditional Verbs. If you haven’t listened to the first podcast on Conditionals, then that’s Podcast Number 202, called ‘It’s All Conditional’. This podcast will be easier to understand if you’ve listened to that one first.
So, conditional verbs. If you remember, the conditional is used, when a situation is hypothetical, when it’s not yet happened, we’re just thinking about it happening, we’re talking about what’s possible. So in English grammar lessons, you learn four types of conditional - Type 0, Type 1, Type 2 and Type 3. And of course, it’s the verb in the sentence that’s mainly affected here. In the previous podcast 202, I’ve covered Type 0 and Type 1 Conditionals, so today I’ll cover Types 2 and 3.
Recap Type 0 and Type 1
Just a little recap first of all, on Type 0 and Type 1. So if you remember, sentences with conditional verbs often contain the words IF or UNLESS. IF for a positive condition, ‘IF I have a new car, I will get to work on time’ and UNLESS for a negative condition ‘I won’t get to work on time, UNLESS I get a new car’. There are sentences which are conditional, which don’t use IF or UNLESS, but they tend to use modal verbs instead. Modal verbs are verbs like ‘would’, ‘should’ or ‘could’. I’ll cover these verbs in a third podcast on Conditionals. That’s still to come, it’s a future podcast. Maybe it ‘ll make PART THREE on Conditionals!
So to recap on Type 0 Conditions – these are used for general truths, observations about the world, which are always true. So:-
- If it rains in spring, the grass grows.
- Water freezes, if you cool it to 0C.
- If I wake up in the night, I read a book.
OK, so far, so good. They’re easy, Type 0.
And remember Type 1 conditionals - basically we’re saying if a certain thing happens in the future, something else will happen in the future too, so we use IF and simple present, followed by simple future. And it sounds like this, these are Type 1s:-
- ‘If you make the dinner early, we will go to the theatre’.
- If there is a problem with the car, he will take it to the garage’.
- If I am cold, I will put my jacket on.
- ‘If the weather is sunny, I’ll do some work in the garden.’
So Type 1s are used when there is a real possibility of something happening in the future.
OK, so let’s do the other types.
Type 2 Conditionals
So Type 2 Conditionals – we use these when we want to talk about situations which aren’t real. They might be dreams, or things which currently are not going to happen, they don’t look likely. So Type 2s are used when you’re talking about something imaginary. So some classic examples:-
- If I won the lottery, I would buy a house in the country.
- I would have some more children, if I was 10 years younger. (I’m not sure that one’s true!)
- If I was an astronaut, I would fly to the moon.
- If I was a ballerina, I would eat only salad.
So some of these things are highly unlikely, some are probably impossible – for me at least! Now if we look at the conditional verbs here, the IF part uses simple past ‘If I won the lottery’, ‘If I was an astronaut’. And the second part uses ‘I would’ – as in ‘I would buy a house in the country’. You might hear that ‘I would’ shortened to ‘I’d’ in conversation - ‘I’d buy a house in the country’. ‘Would’, W-O-U-L-D is a modal verb. Modal verbs are really easy to use, they don’t change – I would, he would, we would, they would and you just add whatever verb you like at the end. I would buy, I would have, I would live, I would eat. So type 2 can be simple past plus would.
But you can also use other modal verbs in the 2nd half of the sentence. Would W-O-U-L-D suggests that you’d like to buy a house in the country, or you’d like fly to the moon. But if you used ‘could’ instead – C-O-U-L-D, the main point would be that you would be able to or might M-I-G-H-T which implies less certainty. ‘Might’ means ‘I’ll decide if it happens!’
Another important thing to mention – sometimes you hear ‘If I were….’ instead of ‘If I was…..’. In any other context, ‘I were’ would be incorrect and you do sometimes hear English speakers say ‘I were driving my car….’ but that’s wrong, that’s an ouch! Without the IF, ‘I were’ is bad grammar, but with the IF, it’s fine. And that’s because it’s a subjunctive, if you’re interested, but it doesn’t really matter. Just remember ‘If I were...’ is fine.
So I might say ‘If I WAS a man, I’d grow a beard’. That’s fine. But I could also say ‘If I WERE a man, I’d grow a beard’. Again notice it’s a Type 2 Conditional, ‘cause it’s probably not going to happen, that one!
Type 3 Conditionals
So Type 3 Conditionals. Well, they’re rather like Type 0 or Type 1 Conditionals. So we’re talking about situations which are either general truths or which are possible. But they’re in the past. So they’re things that could have happened in the past, but they didn’t! The opportunity has been missed! So Type 3 Conditionals use IF + past perfect, then perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional. That’s for those of you who like to know the grammatical names – but let’s’ go with some examples for everybody else.
So I’ve taken the examples of Type 0 Conditionals from podcast 202 and put them in the past tense to give you examples of Type 3 Conditionals here:-
- If you had been smiling, you would have looked more friendly.
- If he had got lost, he would have phoned me.
- If you had mixed blue and yellow paint, you would have got green
- He would not have eaten the biscuits, unless he’d known that they were nut-free.
Boring Lessons Look Like This!
So we’re talking here about past possibilities, which didn’t happen. And here are the examples of Type 1 Conditionals from podcast 202 again and I’ve made them into Type 3 conditionals by pushing them further into the past. So these are all Type 3 conditionals:-
- If the parcel had been at the post office, I would have collected it.
- If you had agreed with me, I would have put the idea forward.
- I wouldn’t have washed my car, unless you had been willing to help me.
- I would have driven my car, if you had been sure it was safe.
- I wouldn’t have driven my car, unless you had been sure it was safe.
So all of those examples are with the perfect conditional – and notice that you could also use ‘could’ or ‘might’ instead of ‘would’.
Let’s just do some Type 3 examples, with perfect continuous conditional. Hopefully you’ll get the meaning by hearing it:-
If you had baked a cake, I would have been helping you decorate it (or I could have been helping you decorate it).
You would have been healthier, if you had eaten more vegetables.
If you had done your homework, I would have been taking you to the park.
I wouldn’t be taking you to the park, unless you had done your homework.
OK, these are complicated English grammar lessons, so let’s not do any more. You’ll need to listen to this podcast a number of times to get used to the meanings. Hopefully by working on this in stages, it’ll be a bit easier! Don’t be discouraged,
English speakers do conditional verbs correctly all the time, without even thinking about it. It’s automatic, so it is learnable, even though it seems difficult at first. If you find you want more help on Conditionals – more help or more teaching or more examples or if you have any questions, please email us or contact us on Facebook! Our email address is:
- support @ adeptenglish.com.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: This Podcast Lesson Is Easy: It Just Sounds More Complicated Than It Is
All languages have grammatical rules and English is no exception. Unlike normal English grammar lessons which are usually boring and difficult to remember, Adept English uses a “listen & learn” system that focuses on getting you speaking English fluently.
If you listen to us using the correct grammar even though this is complex grammar: "If he had got lost, he would have phoned me.” Your brain will store this away and eventually if you hear it again you will automatically know if you are using the correct grammar even if you know little about type 3 conditionals and the past tense usage.
For most English language students English grammar lessons are the worst part of learning to speak English. We think our method of learning is easier, is faster and is more fun and interesting. So again what do you have to lose? Listen and find out why over 200,000 people tune into our podcast every month?