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?

  • 1
    Please see this answer. – tchrist Sep 5 '15 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). – FumbleFingers Sep 5 '15 at 17:57
  • Almost any website on conditional clauses explains the school types. grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/conditional2.htm – rogermue Sep 5 '15 at 18:19
  • 2
    @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 '15 at 21:45
  • @tchrist And if you're from Florida and surrounding areas (possibly the whole South? Not sure how wide it spreads), it could even be a simple past. “Whenever I was going to work this morning, I'd take the small roads to avoid traffic”. Still sounds bizarre to me, but then it is Florida… – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 5 '15 at 22:43

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.

  • 2
    The first should probably use pluperfect in its protasis: "If I had had money." – Brian Donovan Sep 5 '15 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. – Peter Shor Sep 5 '15 at 16:54
  • @wythagoras and both the sentences are grammatical, right? – India Slaver Sep 5 '15 at 16:59
  • 1
    @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 '15 at 17:01
  • @PeterShor, yes, in oral and/or informal contexts. – Brian Donovan Sep 5 '15 at 17:10

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