From EF (Education First), The type 2 conditional is used, with if clause in simple past and main clause in present conditional or in present continuous conditional, to express an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result; and the time is now or any time.

EF's examples

If the weather wasn't so bad, we would go to the park.

If I was the Queen of England, I would give everyone a chicken.

If you really loved me, you would buy me a diamond ring.

If I knew where she lived, I would go and see her.

I'm confused because--should I use the past tenses of the verbs I'm meaning in the present time and in the future time?

My example

If we were to be together to prove that there's/there was no end, so help me, would hold your hand forever even you're/you were pretend.

What I mean: If we were to be together (right now) to prove that there is no end another way of saying loving forever (not an end that just existed in the past, but end that has existed in the past up until now), so help me (is this correct? An idiom for "I promise," but type 2 conditional says it should be used with present conditional in the main clause. If the idiom were meant for "I would promise," then it's? fine, but it was? not.), would hold your hand forever even you're pretend (even if you're just meant to exist in my imagination, same issue about what to use present tense or past tense).

Also, please answer the mini-questions I've put along the way in typing this question and correct the grammar of my question itself. I want to learn.

  • 1
    FWIW, the first example ("If the weather wasn't so bad...") sounds wrong to me, for exactly the reason you say --- the tenses of the two parts don't match. I'd say "If the weather weren't so bad, we'd go to the park"...but I suspect this is colloquial rather than educated speech. – The Photon May 2 '17 at 5:38
  • Here's the link of those examples. ef.com/english-resources/english-grammar/type-2-conditional – Xyenz May 2 '17 at 5:42
  • 1
    I don't claim my version is what you should use on your exam, just that it sounds better to me as a native AmE speaker. – The Photon May 2 '17 at 5:43
  • Well, what do you think of my example? Should I use the present tenses? – Xyenz May 2 '17 at 5:47
  • If the weather… and where she lived are fine. Don’t you think it’s a giant step from any of them to your poem? Your examples use I/we/you would but what about your poem, please? If you aim to compare (someone) would hold your hand… then I suggest it’s buried far too deep. If we were together, I would hold your hand forever is comparable and does work, and that’s because it’s so much more simple. How many phrases, clauses or thoughts are there in If we were to be together to prove that there's/there was no end, so help me, would hold your hand forever even you're/you were pretend? – Robbie Goodwin Sep 19 '17 at 16:56

My preferred usage in the first two examples is the past subjunctive, rather than the simple past form of to be.

Wikipedia has this to say about it (here):

Second conditional

"Second conditional" or "conditional II" refers to a pattern used to describe hypothetical, typically counterfactual situations with a present or future time frame (for past time frames the third conditional is used). In the normal form of the second conditional, the condition clause is in the past tense (although it does not have past meaning), and the consequence is expressed using the conditional construction with the auxiliary would:

If I liked parties, I would attend more of them.

If it rained tomorrow, people would dance in the street.

The past tense (simple past or past progressive) of the condition clause is historically the past subjunctive. In modern English this is identical to the past indicative, except in the first and third persons singular of the verb be, where the indicative is was and the subjunctive were; was is sometimes used as a colloquialism (were otherwise preferred), although the phrase if I were you is common in colloquial language. ...

If I (he, she, it) were rich, there would be plenty of money available for this project.

If I (he, she, it) were speaking, you would not be allowed to interrupt like that.

[emphasis added]

However, you won't be misunderstood using the simple past ("was"), so if that's what you're being taught in a classroom setting, that's what you should use when answering an exam.

  • My question is about the consistency of the verb tenses in using the Type 2 conditional. Please see my example above and use "what I mean" as the reference of the context. And I'd like to see my grammatical mistakes. Please correct me. Another question, I'm overusing "the," aren't I? – Xyenz May 3 '17 at 3:21

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