15 | 03 | 2013
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2f Conditionals - Условные предложения

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Level: high intermediate - adavanced.

This fifth lesson on conditionals is presented in 2 parts. This is the second part, and we review form and use of unreal conditionals in the past. Exercises invite students to practice using this structure.

 Unreal Condition in the Past - Нереальные условия в прошлом





So, up to now we’ve talked about using only “would have + the past participle” in the result clause

What other modals can we use in the result clause?

Other modals can be used and I’d like to share a couple of examples

Again with the help of flags

Do you know this one?

This is 

the French flag,

the flag of France


I’ve been to France a few times and I enjoyed myself.

I think 

I might have enjoyed myself more / if I had learned to speak better French.

So in the result clause, I used

{might have + past participle) indeed expresses as possibility:

might have + the past participle=possibility



So here’s the second example.

This is

the Canadian flag,

the flag of Canada.

After college and somewhere in the middle of graduate school, I went to Toronto to visit a friend there.

It was the only city I got to see because I didn’t have much money to go to travel all around of Canada.

I could have seen more of Canada if I had had more money.

So in this statement I used

(could have + the past participle) again to talk about possibility.

couldt have + the past participle=possibility or ability

Could have + the past participle could express possibility or ability.

So the truth: I wasn’t able to see more of Canada, why?

Because I didn’t have much money.

And note that in that if clause, I had two has, if I had had more money, to some ears it might sound strange, but it’s correct because the past perfect is had + past participle.

In that statement, my main verb was have and its past participle is had.

So if I had had more money, I could have seen more Canada.


Let’s Review.

Unreal Condition in the Past

These statement show situation that are:

untrue (never happen)

unreal (imaginary)

disappointing (regrettable)


Let’s talk more specifically about those untrue situations.

Untrue situations

You want to emphasize the connection between two events.

If I hadn't seen the ad, I wouldn't have found work on a cruise ship.

If I hadn't worked on that cruise ship, I wouldn't have spent time in the Bagamas.


Unreal Situations

You want to imagine another possibility.

If my childhood home had been Buckingham Palace, I would have had few friends but a lot of room to play.


Disappointing Sitiation

You want to express a regret.

If I had know Spanish, I would have had more conversations with Mexicans during my trip.


Opder of Clauses

The "If" clause can come first in statement, or it can follow the result:

If I hadn't gone to Russia, I wouldn't have met my husband.

I wouldn't have met my husband if I hadn't gone to Russia.


Note that  comma is used only when the  "If"-clause comes first.

If we are speaking, then we pause in place of the comma.


Verb Tenses

Use the past perfect in the "If"-clause:

If I hadn't gone to Russia, ...

If I had lived in Japan, ...


Verb In the Result Clause

Most ofteb we use

(would have+ past participle):

If I hadn't gone to Russia, I wouldn't have met my husband.

I would have learned more Japanese if I had lived in Japan.


Note with pronunciation, would have in fast speech sounds like learned more Japanese if I had lived in Japan.


(might have + past participle)

expresses an unlikely but possible result.

I might have enjoyed myself more in France if I had learned to speak better French.


(could have + past participle)

expresses either a possible result or someone's ability.

I could have seev more of Canada if I had had more money.


Progressive Verbs In the "If"-clause

If it hadn't been raining, we wouldn't have shared a pleasant walk under the same umbrella).

(if+past perfect progressive)


So let’s try an exercise.


Put the verb in the correct forms.



If the Samuel Morse ___ (not invent) the telegraph, other inventors ___ (might not create) the radio, telephone, or television.


a) hadn't invented

b) might not have created



1. If the Titanic ___ (not hit) an iceberg, the ship ___ (not sink).


a) hadn't hit

b) wouldn't have sink


2. The 13 British colonies ___ (not become) the United States of America back in 1776 if there ___ (not be) a war against England.


a) wouldn't have become

b) hadn't been


3. Fever countries ___ (might form) if our word ___ (remain) one continent.


a) might have formed

b) had remained


4. If intelligent humans ___ (be living) at the same time as the dinosaurs, they ___ (could pass) on a better understanding of those great  creatures to us.


a) had been living

b) could have passed


5. The people of Pompei, Italy ___ (might survive) the terrible volcanic eruption of 79 A.D if there ___ (be) some kind of warning.


a) might have surviveded

b) had been



For example, you read the example to yourself and then I’ll tell you the answer. Here’s the final exercise.


Read the following situation and then answer the questions using conditional statements.


Was it a Crime?

Victor was a poor man with a wife and a child. His job at the owner of the store caught Victor taking home fruit and canned goods. Victor was fired.

1. If you had been the store owner, would you have fired Victor?

2. If you had been Victor, would you have tried to explain your actions?

3. If you had been Victor's co worker and had seen him take the food, would you have tried to stop him?


One thing you can do with the previous exercise is to share them with your friend who’s also studying English.

If you still have doubts, you can send them to me. I’ll correct them for you.


That’s the end of our lesson on unreal conditional at the past. Thanks for watching.

Happy Studies!


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