The Second Conditional is used to express something that is unlikely to happen and it can only refer to future events. According to this explanation I don’t really get these two sentences below, even though they sound fine to me.

An UFC fighter, after defeating his opponent said: “I said I’d punish him”. I assume the fighter said that because he had a feeling of what -would had happened, right?-

I never thought Trump would win.

Both sentences refer to past events.

Can anyone help me get a better understanding (figure it out/sort it out/clear my head/get my head straight)?

  • It's future in the past, not conditional
    – Son Nguyen
    Jun 28, 2020 at 18:41

1 Answer 1


These are not conditional.

As well as its use as a modal in its own right, would has a second use (its historical origin, in fact), as the past of the modal will.

Both of these are reported speech, with backshifting:

I'll punish him -> I said I'd punish him.

Trump will win -> I never thought Trump would win.

  • Neither is necessarily reported speech. It is the past of the modal will.
    – Lambie
    Jun 28, 2020 at 20:09

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