Conditional Type 2

Conditional Type 2 is also sometimes called the second/ hypothetical / unreal conditional. We use it to refer to something that is (or is perceived to be) impossible or contrary-to-fact. It implies that at the moment of speaking the action or the event is impossible.

The basic form of Conditional Type 2
main clause [would+V]
if clause [if+V in past simple]

Conditional Type 2 can refer to both present and future.

Present: If he didn’t annoy her so much, she would spend more time with him.
Future: If I got an invitation, I’d go there right away.

Conditional Type 1 and Conditional Type 2 can refer to the future. The difference is that in Conditional Type 1 the action is viewed as real, whereas in Conditional Type 2 the action is viewed as unreal.

Conditional Type 1: If it gets colder tonight, I’ll turn on the heating. [viewed as a real possibility]
Conditional Type 2 : If it got colder tonight, I’d turn on the heating. [not viewed a real possibility]

The form of be in the ‘if clause’ in Conditional Type 2

main clause [would+V]
if clause [if+were]
E.g: If I were at home, I would be able to look for more information.
If I were a bird, I wouldn’t like to live in a cage where I couldn’t be free...

If I were you is used to express advice in English.
E.g: If I were you, I would make an appointment and see a doctor.
If I were you, I would focus on Conditionals.

Should is sometimes used instead of would in the main clause after I and we.
E.g: I shouldn’t be able to get any sleep at all if I lived next to that noise.

Should is used in official or commercial correspondence.
E.g: I should be grateful for an early response to my letter.

Were+long infinitive is used instead of a past tense form. This makes the event more hypothetical or the statement more tentative, therefore, more polite.
E.g: If the river were to rise above the height flood barrier, there would be absolutely nothing we could do to save the city.
If you were to have a few minutes free, I’d really appreciate talking to you.

When we use were in the if clause, we can invert were and the subject and leave out if altogether.
E.g: Were he really ill, I would be more sympathetic.
       Were you to accept my offer, I would personally oversee the agreement.