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I would like to know the difference between the following two sentences:

  • If I had money, I would have gone to the USA.
  • If I had money, I would go to the USA.

Which of the above two would you classify as the second conditional sentence?

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    Please see this answer.
    – tchrist
    Sep 5, 2015 at 17:00
  • I have no closevotes left today, but this is a dup of would have and would in non conditional statements (I don't think "non conditional statements" is relevant). Sep 5, 2015 at 17:57
  • Almost any website on conditional clauses explains the school types. grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conditional2.htm
    – rogermue
    Sep 5, 2015 at 18:19
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    @rogermue But those are not “the school types”. No native speaker is taught them in school, and no linguists use them, either. Moreover, they do actual harm as described in the papers referenced in my linked answer — this is a serious problem. Finally, the second sentence could well be the descriptive/repetitive past, not anything hypothetical at all: “Back then whenever I found the money for it, I would go to the United States on holiday.”
    – tchrist
    Sep 5, 2015 at 21:45
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    Does this answer your question? would have and would in non conditional statements Dec 20, 2020 at 16:13

1 Answer 1

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The second one is the second conditional sentence, because it uses would+infinitive.

The difference between the sentences is that the first sentence is indicates that you if you had had money in the past (for example last year), you would have gone to the USA last year. The second one indicates that if you had money right now, you would go to the USA right no.

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    The first should probably use pluperfect in its protasis: "If I had had money." Sep 5, 2015 at 16:45
  • @Brian: I believe English speakers are very likely to contract the first had to "If I'd had ..." to avoid the double had. Sep 5, 2015 at 16:54
  • @wythagoras and both the sentences are grammatical, right? Sep 5, 2015 at 16:59
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    @IndiaSlaver There are quite literally hundreds of valid combinations. Any numerological assignation is potentially dangerous mythology. As many as 90% of the most commonly used conditional forms are intentionally not taught to foreign language speakers learning English, doing them great harm. See my longer answer referenced in your question’s comment section.
    – tchrist
    Sep 5, 2015 at 17:01
  • @PeterShor, yes, in oral and/or informal contexts. Sep 5, 2015 at 17:10

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