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  • Learn English Second Conditional with this Song

    I really can’t believe that it took me all this time to think of Lyle Lovett’s “If I had a Boat” as a great way for students to learn English second conditionals.

    Then today I was giving a class to a student, trying to think of examples of the second conditional, when I remembered these lines from the song.

    If I had a boat, I’d go out on the ocean,

    And if I had a pony, I’d ride it on my boat.

    Both of these use the English second conditional to express an idea in the present or future that is not likely or impossible. It is constructed in the following ways:

    If Clause: If + past simple (Note: It isn’t really the past simple it is the subjunctive which indicates a mood or feeling. The mood or feeling that it indicates is that it is unlikely or impossible.)

     Result Clause: modal verb + infinitive:

    If I were Paul, I wouldn’t work so hard.

    If Clause: If + Past Continuous

    Result Clause: modal verb + infinitive:

    If I were going to the store, I would buy you some ice cream.

    Studying English grammar that way can be very boring, so that’s why I like to help people learn English with songs. Here’s a great one to help you remember your second conditionals: