Intermediate Level
Lesson 16


Intermediate English
Lesson 16 - The Future

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The Conditional

In the conditional tense we imagine what would happen under certain imaginary conditions.

If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.

(I don't have a lot of money, but I am imagining what I would do if I had a lot.)

In conditional sentences, we put the verb in the past tense form in the part of the sentence that begins with the word if (even though the verb doesn't refer to the past). If the verb is negative, we use the auxiliary verb didn't just as we do with verbs in the past tense. In the second part of the sentence (the part without the word if) we use the auxiliary verb would. If the sentence is negative, we use would not or the contraction wouldn't.

If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.
If I had a lot of money, I wouldn't work.

We can put the part of the sentence that begins with the word if first or second. If we put it first, however, we have to put a comma after this part of the sentence.

If I had a lot of money, I wouldn't work.
I wouldn't work if I had a lot of money.


NOTE #1:
The verb to be is a little different in conditional sentences. This is an aspect of grammar that is changing. Grammar books used to say that we had to always use were in conditional sentences, even in the first and third person singular (I, he, she, it).

If I were rich, I would travel around the world.

It used to be considered bad grammar to say was in conditional sentences like the one above. This is changing and now, even in grammar books, they list both alternatives (was and were).

If I was rich, I would travel around the world.
If I were rich, I would travel around the world.


NOTE #2:
Don't forget that could is the past of the auxiliary verb can. We can use could in conditional sentences to indicate an imaginary situation.

If I could fly like a bird, I would sell my car.

We also can use could instead of would in conditional sentences when talking about ability.

If I had wings, I could fly like a bird.


Write conditional sentences using the information provided.

If/win the lottery/no work

travel to Hawaii/if/have a private airplane

1. If/have enough money/buy a new car

2. If/speak English well/get a good job

3. get married/if/meet the right man

4. move to a different neighborhood/if/can afford it

5. If/have more vacation time/travel

6. no shop at cheap stores/if/have more money

7. exercise/if/have a membership at a gym

8. If/no have children/go out dancing at night

9. no work long days/if/no need money

10. If/no have a computer/no visit the Passport to English web site


More Practice
What would you do in these situations? Finish the sentences with the conditional. There are no correct or incorrect answers.

If I were rich,

If I had a million dollars,

If I were the president of my country,

If I were young again,

If I were invisible,

If I could speak English perfectly,


Making Speculations

We can use could, might, and may to make speculations.

Who is that woman?

She could be a famous singer.
She might be a movie star.
She may be a fashion designer.



To change them to the negative, we add not. We can, alternatively, use the contraction with could (couldn't), but not with might nor may.

She couldn't be the president.
She might not be from this country.
She may not be from this planet.


Find the Mistake

Find the errors in the sentences.  Write the sentences correctly.

She are a student. --> She is a student. 

1. If I have a car, I would drive.

3. If I were rich, I can buy a mansion.

2. I need new speekers for my computer.

4. If I would travel, I would go to China.

5. I would help people, if I were president.*

*The mistake in #5 is the comma.


Study English Abroad

You will find more information about studying English abroad and inexpensive alternatives to studying abroad in the Study Abroad area of Passport to English.

Study Abroad Information
Why study abroad?
What to look for in a study abroad program
Types of Programs
Alternatives to Study Abroad
Home Exchange



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