Wednesday, March 2, 2011

G2R - the second conditional part 3

In part 1 of our Grammar2Remember lesson on the second conditional (Feb 4, 2011), we covered the basics of this unreal conditional and talked about its structure and meaning:
If I were the President, I would build a better train system.
If he were poor, he wouldn't be able to buy that Ferrari.
If she had some extra money, she would take a break and go on vacation.

In part 2 (Feb 23, 2011), we looked at an advanced structure of the second conditional using nouns and adjectives in the "if clause":
Were I the President, I would build a better train system.
Were he poor, he wouldn't be able to buy that Ferrari.

Now in part 3, we ask what if the "if clause" had a verb other than "were"? How do we then form the advanced structure. Well, to create the advanced structure, we also get rid of the word "if", place "were" in front, and change the verb to the infinitive. Because it's the second conditional, it's still unreal. However, using the infinitive makes us focus more on considering the possibility of the option mentioned. In other words, "this option" may not happen, but let's think about the possibility of it happening.  

like this: 
1. If we had a pool, we could swim everyday. (We don't have a pool.)
    If we were to have a pool, we ... (Let's think about this possibility.)
    (advanced form) Were we to have a pool, we could swim everyday. 
2. If they lived near the ocean, they would know how to swim. (They don't live near the ocean.)
    If they were to live near the ocean, they ... (Let's consider this possibility.)
    (advanced formWere they to live near the ocean, they would learn how to swim. 
3. If she worked in New Jersey, she would have a much longer commute. (She doesn't work in New Jersey.)
    If she were to work in New Jersey, she would have ... (Let's consider this possibility.)
    (advanced formWere she to work in New Jersey, she would have a very long commute. 

This structure is probably the least used among the advanced structures of conditional sentences, and even advanced students are sometimes surprised when they first see it after years of studying English. Nevertheless, it's important to be familiar with it as with the advanced structures of the first and third conditionals, which we will cover in the future.

So, to practice, let's finish these sentences: (Consider the possibility, and say what you would or could do.) 
1. Were I to stay in the U.S. for good, I would ... 
2. Were I to get promoted in my job, I could ...

Good luck!
Joe Yu

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