Do these sentences mean exactly the same thing? If yes, why does (a) use the present tense and (b) the past?

(a) IF I WIN the lottery, I WILL buy a big house.

(b) IF I WON the lottery, I WOULD BUY a big house.

Thank you!

1 Answer 1


Timing is everything.

In the first instance, there is a real possibility of winning the lottery. The speaker has already purchased a lottery ticket and is awaiting the draw.

In the second instance, the speaker is fantasizing about winning the lottery someday.

  • 1
    There is never a real possibility to win ;))) If there were, he should use "When I win"...
    – mplungjan
    Commented Sep 21, 2013 at 5:01
  • Can you please give me some suggested reading for the second case. Commented Oct 15, 2018 at 17:28
  • 1
    @ᚔZenOutᚔ I cannot. However, if "spoken" by the protagonist, I can easily imagine it introducing most any episode of a typical American television situation comedy.
    – Stan
    Commented Oct 16, 2018 at 2:11

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