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Normally, type 2 conditional follows syntax: If [simple past clause], [present conditional clause]. For example: If we had high accuracy, we would need a lot of processing power.

But is it possible to use "like" in simple past: If we liked to increase accuracy, we would need more processing power.

I tried to search these kind of expressions (if we liked ... we would ...) in internet, and I noticed that it is very very rare. However, there exist millions of expressions like: If we would like [to do something] we would [do something].

So, it seems like in case of "like" it is preferred to use "would" both in if clause and main clause: If we would like to increase accuracy, we would need more processing power. But this is not according to type 2 conditional, or is it?

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  • 1
    The issue here is not so much about conditional syntax but about the difference between to like (which has various forms) and would like (to) (which has only one). If you replace would like with the equivalent tensed verb want, then you can construct regular conditional 1 & 2 sentences: If we want to..., we will need... or If we wanted to..., we would need.... But would like does not change form between 1 & 2.
    – Shoe
    Feb 13, 2019 at 19:40
  • There is no difference between "if we had" and "if we liked", so it is not clear what the question is about.
    – Rusty Core
    Feb 13, 2019 at 22:27
  • @Shoe I do not understand what is your point. So, are you just saying the same what I asked that it is better to use expression "If we would like to increase accuracy, we would need more processing power" instead of "If we liked to increase etc." ?
    – Malakias
    Feb 14, 2019 at 14:31
  • @RustyCore But of course there is a difference. Firstly, in this case I cannot say "If we had..." Well, of course I could change the whole expression to be different, but I am not asking for alternative ways for this particular expression. I want to know how I can use "like" with type 2 conditional. So, without "like" I could say "If we increased accuracy, we would need etc." But I want to express this in a more subtle way, to express DESIRE: "If we DESIRED to increase accuracy, etc." But instead of "desire" just using "like".
    – Malakias
    Feb 14, 2019 at 14:40
  • We like to increase accuracy = it gives us pleasure to increase accuracy. We would like to increase accuracy = we want/desire to increase accuracy. Are you trying to express pleasure or desire here?
    – Shoe
    Feb 14, 2019 at 15:26

1 Answer 1

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Since no one is interested to answer this, I try to answer myself according to the comments. It seems that both options are valid: "If we liked to ..." and "If we would like to ...". However, they have semantic difference: The former, "liked to", implies pleasure of doing something, and the latter, "would like to", implies desire to do something. In my case, the purpose was to express desire; therefore, the latter is the preferred option.

My only concern, which I still would like someone to give a definitive answer, is that to me this does not qualify as type 2 conditional, where the if-sentence should have only a simple past tense: "liked". Now both if- and main sentence include "would" conditional, that is against the rule: If we would like to increase accuracy, we would need more processing power.

So, if I really can use "would" conditional in both, why it is wrong to say: If I would have more money, I would buy a better car. Why "would like" is ok, but "would have" is not? Isn't there any logic in English? I suppose that is the reason why English people did not understand the original question either.

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  • it might help, as a starting point, to stop thinking in terms of type 0,,1,2, mixed conditionals and start thinking in terms of real and unreal/past and present conditionals. in actual language use, native English speakers do not adhere to the artifical constructs given by the type 0,1,2,mixed categories, were are imposed upon the language (ostensibly as a teaching aid to second/foreign language students) and do not describe reality Nov 16, 2019 at 15:40
  • please see (1) english.stackexchange.com/questions/316123/… and (2) ell.stackexchange.com/questions/65796/…, especially the ELTJ article referred to, which is here: (3) clok.uclan.ac.uk/1531/1/elt.ccp101.full_1531.pdf Nov 16, 2019 at 16:54
  • in fact, there is nothing that prevents anyone from saying "if I would have more money..." but this gets more into the usage and meaning of "would" than it does of conditionals Nov 16, 2019 at 16:57
  • It is nothing to do with the conditionals at all in a literate English. It is an informal spoken way to ask for something politely or informal Conditional 2. You may use it in a corner shop for buying crisps and soda, or when applying for food stamps, but be careful not to speak so when interviewing for a decent job or something like it.
    – kngram
    Jul 13, 2020 at 18:16

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