I was learning about second conditionals when I found a conflicting opinion on the internet regarding second conditional's future use. Consider this sentence for example :

If I pilot a plane tommorow, I would try to land it on the moon.

If I pilot a plane, I would try to land it on the moon.

Are both these sentences correct. If the first one is wrong then what could be a possible alternative for the first sentence in my example?

Take a look at this link. It mentions that second conditional is used for present only. Now, have a look at this webpage. Both are conflicting in some way. Please suggest which one is correct.

1 Answer 1


We use third conditional to talk about hypothetical situations in the past, and second conditionals talk about hypothetical situations in the present (actually the immediate future) and future.

If he walked in here right now, I would buy him a beer -present/immediate future
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would give all the money to you - future

A couple of comments about your examples. First, you don't drive a plane- you fly or pilot it. Second, with second conditionals, the first clause is generally the *irrealis* (unachievable) part, and the second clause is something that would be possible if the first clause occurred. With your example, the first part is theoretically possible, but the second part is not. Here are some more appropriate examples- "take you to India" would be possible if you could pilot a plane.

If I piloted a plane tomorrow, I would take you to India -fixed, future date
If I were to pilot a plane, I would take you to India. -unspecified time

If you insist on going to the moon, move the impossible bit to the first clause, like this:

If I had a spaceship, I would take you to the moon.

  • @JavaLatte..very well explained. But how can I write my example sentence? Which conditional would work better for such sentences? Sep 16, 2020 at 3:35

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