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?

  • 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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 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 '19 at 15:26

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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