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If they arrested every dude out there for tipping back a High Life there'd be no other time for any other kind of police work. (The wire , tv series)

In this example commissioner is talking about an incident that happened before his time which means this conversation is about possible situation in the past and its possible result in the past not about imagined situation and its possible result in present or future.

The reason why I am confused is that whenever I search about the structure of the second conditionals they express the intent of the second conditional as "We use the second conditional to talk about the possible result of an imagined situation in the present or future" . And in my example second conditional was used for "possible situation in the (past)", like first conditional but this time possible situation and its possible result that we are talking about is in the past .So why do we use second conditional form when the situation is not a hypothetical situation and its results are not in present or future (it is in past)

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    Why do you say the situation is not a hypothetical situation? Obviously it is hypothetical - if it were real, the police would be fully occupied dealing with people who tip back High Life (whatever that's supposed to mean; it's all Greek to me). – FumbleFingers Aug 26 '18 at 18:10
  • But in the second conditionals results in present or future.In this case we are talking about past situation , results should be in the past it cant be in the present or future . I mean in this case it is like a first conditional but like a different version of it , a past version – Talha Özden Aug 26 '18 at 18:43
  • @FumbleFingers I assume that High Life is referring to the beer Mlller High Life. So, in this case, the sentence is talking about drinking on the job. (Although the statement that drinking is a kind of police work is strange—but it's out of context anyway.) – Jason Bassford Aug 26 '18 at 19:53
  • @Jason Bassford I don't think he is talking about drinking on the job, although I haven't seen the program, so he could be. I think he is referring to a member of the public who was arrested for drinking in a public place. Hopefully, drinking on the job is not so prevalent that it would take all of the time the police have to police it. – James Aug 26 '18 at 20:14
  • @James Ah. So, not the "crime" of drinking on the job—but the fictional crime of drinking in general (assuming it were illegal). They'd be spending so much time on that crime, they wouldn't have time to deal with any other . . . – Jason Bassford Aug 26 '18 at 20:18
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The structure of the second conditional iis usually given as something like this:

The second conditional uses if followed by a verb in the simple past tense to raise a hypothetical scenario, it then looks forward to a how that hypothetical event will affect us in the present or future using 'would' and the infinitive of a verb.

The Commissioner was initially talking about a true event that happened in the past, but he then went on to hypothesise about how, if we continued to do that, we would not have time for anything else. In effect he was saying:

Arresting people for doing things like that was stupid because, if we continued to arrest people for behaviour like that, we wouldn't have any time to do any other kind of police work.

So his statement exactly meets the requirements for the second conditional, i.e.,:

  1. He is talking about an imagined situation, (If they arrested every dude out there for tipping back a High Life). 'If' implies imagined or hypothetical, 'Arrested' is a verb in the simple past tense.

  2. Then he discusses the possible result in the present or future, (there'd be no other time for any other kind of police work). 'there'd' is a shortened version of 'there would' and 'be' is the infinitive of the verb 'to be'.

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