I'm interested in whether the bold phrase in these examples is correct in terms of grammar from the native's point of view?

  1. In tonight's competition I'm an underdog and have no chance for any of the reasons: I'm not confident in myself, I don't believe in myself, I haven't been preparing enough, I don't feel well or any else. My win is completely unexpected and looks impossible to me. And I say: If I won that award my life would change.

  2. I've just lost the competition right now. And maybe even next year this competition will be again and I can fix everything but doesn't matter actually. I've just lost right now. And I lament: If I won that award my life would change.

  3. I mean the Oscars, the Olympic Games, the Nobel Prize, whatever. I'm not a professional athlete/actor/writer and don't even intend to become one. It's just an imagination. I guess: If I won that award my life would change.

Does this phrase grammatically apply properly to all these described cases??

May I use the construct "If I won it would..." for situations I do not expect and do not believe in their feasibility in reality? For any unrealistic, hypothetical or impossible in my vision in present/future as the examples above?

  • 2
    The context of a sentence doesn't affect its grammar. You mean "Is it appropriate/idiomatic in all these cases?" It doesn't seem obviously wrong to me, though in (2) you could say "If I had won that award..." instead, or in (3), to indicate a remote possibility "If I were to win that award..." Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 8:34
  • I mean is this construction better for all these situations than this one: If I had won that award my life would have changed. Which is only suitable for the past, which we no longer have the opportunity to change. In my understanding. Is it right?
    – kapandron
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 9:23
  • Here youtube.com/watch?v=akcc6DphLIg&t=5430 for example, an athlete has not won a competition (only a bronze medal) and she says: That's how happy I would feel if I won. This is exactly (2) case. Right? I mean the construction If I won I/it would...
    – kapandron
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 9:43
  • She could have said "if I had won" (the competition that has just happened). To me, "if I won" implies "if I were to win the competition on another occasion". But people don't always use precise grammar at moments of strong emotion! Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 10:35
  • You have three answers to choose from.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 26 at 22:04

3 Answers 3

  • Aa If I won that award my life would change.

is an idiomatic (in a form many would use) paraphrase of the formal

  • Ab If I were to win that award my life would change.

A more forceful sounding near-paraphrase is

  • Ac If I win that award my life will change.

All these speak of a future possibility; whether it will transpire is at present unknown (irrealis).


  • C If I had won that award my life would have changed.

has a different meaning (possibly more than one): that thee award wasn't won by me, and that one is pretty sure (claiming strongly) that things would have been different had I won the award. (Another reading is actually possible: that the award may have been won by me, without my present knowledge {amnesia?}, but that one is claiming that the evidence argues against my having won it.)


  • B If I won that award my life would have changed.

would not usually be used as a shortened version of C, substituting past simple for past perfect. Confusion is possible because the simple past and the past participle are identical in form (won). There is however the possibility of the use of the past simple, showing the speaker's uncertainty about a possible historical fact:

  • D If I won [/did win] that award, it's completely slipped my memory.

Stress would usually be added, say to 'if' (or 'did win' in the paraphrase).


If the time of speaking is the present time, we say what is below. It is very important to realize when you are speaking and whether it is in the present or if you are speaking about the past.

  1. and 3) [for your first and third sentence]
    If I won that award, my life would change. OR If I win that award, my life will change.

The difference between those two is this: One (the first one) is a more remote possibility than the other (the second one). They are both conditionals.

HOWEVER, in 2) you have just lost a competition: You are referring to the past, even though it is very recent:

If I had won, my life would have changed.


You are hoping to win an upcoming competition for which you might have a chance; the competition is tough but you are not out of the running:

If I were to win that award it would change my life.

You have a snowball's chance in hell of winning an upcoming competition and you are well aware of that fact. Still, you can dream:

If I could win that award it would change my life.

You regret not having won the competition and maybe you don't now expect, or at some time in the past didn't expect, to have another chance:

If I had won that award it would have changed my life.

In the final version, without context, the listener does not know whether you're talking about how you felt in the past or how you feel now. Maybe you were sad some years ago after losing the competition and your life has gone downhill ever since, so that you are sad even today. But maybe you were sad some years ago after losing the competition but some good luck came your way and now you own 12% of Meta.

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