"If they ___ me this job, I'd turn it down."
a) would offer
b) were to offer

I had this question in my test lately. The latter is the right answer, but I don't really get the difference between these two. Could someone explain it?

  • When you use get to mean understand, it can sound odd, even off.
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 2:54
  • You’re on the wrong site. Please finish the Tour to find out the purpose of this site. You need English Language Learners, where the question must have been asked dozens of times as it is one of the most common problems non-native speakers have, even when they are quite fluent in English.
    – David
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 19:01

3 Answers 3


If they were to offer me this job, I would turn it down.

This is an example of the Second Conditional, and in its "if-clause", a "would + verb" construction is not possible.

Second conditional sentences are useful for expressing outcomes that are completely unrealistic or will not likely happen in the future.

Notice the correct way to structure second conditional sentences is to use the simple past tense in the if-clause and an auxiliary modal verb (e.g., could, should, would, might) in the main clause (the one that expresses the unrealistic or unlikely outcome). (From grammarly.com)

Instead of were to offer, the simple past form offered is also acceptable in this type of conditionals, but it was not included in the OP's options.

The structure be + infinitive is used to talk about official plans and arrangements in a formal style.

The structure be + infinitive is common in if-clauses, especially when the if-clause expresses a pre-condition.

The OP's sentences is such a sentence in the Second Conditional construction with a past tense verb without a past meaning. It simply shows a hypothetical situation in the present time.


In standard English, the choice for plain conditionals is between

If they offered me this job ...


If they were to offer me this job ... .

They're both correct, but aren't quite the same; I feel like were to puts more emphasis on the fact that the potential job offer is in the future.

If they would offer me this job

can be used in English, but isn't a simple conditional like offered or were to offer. It means something like if they were willing to offer me this job (with the implication that they probably aren't). In this sentence, the question of whether they're willing to or not doesn't really matter, since you'll turn it down anyway. So were to offer is a better answer, although you could make a case that would offer isn't wrong.

  • 2
    Then there's If they should offer me this job.... Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 13:16

To understand it more easily, put the subordinate clause at the end of the sentence.

I'd turn it down if they would offer me this job.

That just doesn't sound right.

I'd turn it down if they were to offer me this job.

That does sound right.

"Were to" is a special phrase usually ever preceded by words indicating you're making an assumption (like "if", "suppose", or "assume") to express a precondition. "If you were to offer me a job..."

"Would" describes the result of some action, and is already in the sentence. "I'd turn it down" is actually "I would turn it down".

  • Suppose I were to suggest that it doesn't always require an if. Does that surprise you? :)
    – tchrist
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 2:56
  • Good catch. I'll edit my answer accordingly.
    – JRodge01
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 12:52

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