What are the differences between these sentences?

1) If I won the lottery, I would buy a house.

2) If I win a lottery, I will buy a house.

3) If I were to win a lottery, I would buy a house.

4) If I had won a lottery, I would have bought a house.


1 Answer 1


All four sentences are grammatical.

  1. Present conditional following if clause.

  2. Future tense following if clause.

  3. Subjunctive mood. present conditional following if clause in the subjunctive.

  4. Past conditional following if clause.

  • Thanks for the reply.How to identify as to where should we use present conditional,where to use subjunctive mood present conditional and where to use past conditional?Can you please elaborate the answer with an example? Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:24
  • Specifically when should we use the 3rd sentence? Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:27
  • 3
    The first and third really mean the same thing. It is just that the third employs more elegant language to say the same thing. number 2 deals with future circumstances, and number 4 what would have happened in the past.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:34
  • @Anmol: You'd use your 3rd version if (a) - you want to use the subjunctive, and (b) - you're talking about either a "timeless irrealis" condition or a possible future lottery win. If (a) doesn't apply, you'd use your 1st or 2nd versions. If (b) doesn't apply, you might consider "If I were to have won the lottery, I'd have bought a house". Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:34
  • @FumbleFingers Now I'm totally confused, and just as I have to go out. I don't see how the 2nd version can be a substitute for the 1st. They don't mean the same thing. The 2nd is predicting some future circumstance. And I don't see how your final suggestion can possibly be a substitute for his 3rd version.
    – WS2
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:41

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