Conditionals in English make the language supremely inventive and creative. In the previous High English quiz on grammar we looked at probable conditionals where the likelihood of something happening was conditional on something being achieved or happening. That is to say, that an event or action follows another event or is dependent on another event or action. In this quiz we look at another aspect of conditionals where an outcome is unreal or hypothetical.
If you were a connoisseur of cars but didn’t have money to buy your favourite car and suddenly you win Rs 1 Crore in Kaun Banega Crorepathi programme, what would you do with the money? In all probability you would answer as follows:
‘If I won Rs 1 Crore, I would buy the latest Audi Coupe’
Here we note that we are talking about a hypothetical situation or perhaps an unreal situation. Whenever we face such situations the rules of grammar require us to write or speak in a particular way. The basic form of the hypothetical conditional is ‘if + past tense would + bare infinitive.’ In this construction, the clause with ‘if’ is known as the ‘if’ clause and the other clause with the bare infinitive is the main clause. Variations of this form are possible and include replacement of ‘would’ in the main clause with a modal such as 'might' or 'could'. We note that each of these has connotations in terms of certain result if ‘would’ is used, a possible result if ‘might’ is used and showing ability if ‘could’ is used.
Another variation is the absence of ‘if’ in the clause when ‘were’ is used. For instance:
‘If I got an invitation, I’d attend the wedding.’ This sentence could be replaced with:
‘Were I to get an invitation, I’d attend the wedding.’
Yet another variation is the use of continuous conditional form in place of the simple conditional form. Learn more about hypothetical or unreal conditionals by taking the High English grammar quiz that follows.