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We know that the 2nd conditional can refer to hypothetical present, however, I have some doubts on whether the 2nd conditional can refer to hypothetical future situations.

Is it possible to say

If I won a lottery tomorrow, I would buy a house with a pool

(NB: As a speaker I don't intend to participate in any lotteries, nor do I hope for winning anything)

Is it also possible to say

"If I had won a lottery tomorrow, I would buy a house with a pool" ?

Here I decided to use HAD+V3 to create the following meaning "If I happened to be in a situation of having just won a lottery tomorrow...", basically to create a meaning similar to the one Present Perfect has.

Can 2nd conditional refer to hypothetical future as well as present? Are both sentences correct?

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    Did you do any research? For example, Wikipedia's explanation of the 2nd conditional says "with a present or future time frame" and includes the example sentence "If it rained tomorrow, . . .". Where did you look to try to answer this question? Dec 22, 2022 at 16:06
  • I knew the answer before that, It's just I was told by some commenters here that 2nd conditional doesn't refer to the future and I started having doubts Dec 22, 2022 at 16:37
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    If you knew the answer, then there was no need to ask the question. If there is a valid reason for doubt, then you should mention that in the question. (BTW, I don't consider contradictory statements by "commenters here" to be a valid reason unless you actually know that they know what they're talking about.) If commenters do tell you something contradictory, then the comments section (or chat) would be an appropriate place to discuss that with them. Dec 22, 2022 at 17:57
  • Again, "had won" is past perfect, and forms part of the 3rd conditional. If you mix and match verb forms, you end up with mixed conditionals, which are neither 2nd nor 3rd conditional. 3rd conditional refers entirely to the past. 2nd conditional refers entirely to the present and/or future.
    – gotube
    Dec 22, 2022 at 18:49
  • Why bother with repeating would buy twice> If I had won, I would have bought. is better.
    – Lambie
    Jan 4, 2023 at 22:46

1 Answer 1

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It is possible to say "If I won a lottery tomorrow, I would ...". This is the "second conditional" and is about a hypothetical condition that is unlikely. The condition may be present or future.

But it is not possible to say "If I had won a lottery tomorrow", since this is about a counterfactual situation. You can only speak in a counterfactual sense about something in the past, because you need to know what actually did happen, in order to counterfactually speculate about the opposite.

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  • What if I say "If I had found a wallet on the street, I would take it to the police"? It's pretty much the same example, but "had found" is possible here. Is it because I dropped "tomorrow"? Dec 22, 2022 at 16:33
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    I've already told you, in response to your earlier question, that that is correct. Dec 22, 2022 at 17:13

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