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About 2nd conditionals...

If cars could fly, we would commute faster.

why is the verb not in the simple past? and, in this sentence:

If children got everything they wanted, they wouldn't learn the value of things.

why is the verb wanted in the simple past?

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    The first is past form: could is the past form of can. And wanted is cast in the past form as a matter of 'tense harmony' between the main clause and its embedded relative--what's often called 'sequence of tenses'. – StoneyB Mar 5 '18 at 23:04
  • How can I thank this helpful answer to StoneyB? (sorry I'm new here) – ana_1 Mar 5 '18 at 23:22
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    You just did! You're welcome! . . . but when someone comes along who has time to give you a more thorough answer below, you may thank them by a) Upvoting the answer (click on the ▲) and, b) if it's the most useful answer you get, Accepting the answer (click on the ✔) – StoneyB Mar 5 '18 at 23:47
  • Looks like StoneyB answered your question, although I feel that these should have been asked as separate questions, since they are not related. Also it would be good to add more detail explaining why you find this confusing or difficult. – Andrew Mar 6 '18 at 21:26
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If cars could fly, we would commute faster.

In this example, the verb "fly" is not in the past tense because the modal "could" can be used the past form of other modal "can".

So its meaning is the past tense and don't forget that you can't use a past tense verb form with "can" or "could".

If children got everything they wanted, they wouldn't learn the value of things.

This sentence says:

"Children wanted to get something and then they got it, which means that there was no need to continue to want it. They had already gotten what they wanted so their desire finished."

That's why "wanted" is used there.

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