Is it possible to use the past simple in the result-clause of the 2nd conditional?

Is it possible to say:

If I had enough money, I bought a car.

  • Simple answer: no. But you could have a rare situation where you describe your life: When I had a little money, I ate out. If I had enough money, I bought a car. Jan 17, 2021 at 19:08
  • 2
    I wouldn't know about Nᵗʰ conditionals; they're not part of English grammar. But the sentence you proffer has a generic sense, referring to repeated, habitual car-buying. In those days, if I had enough money, I bought a car. Odd, perhaps, and unwise, but neither illegal nor ungrammatical. Jan 17, 2021 at 19:08
  • Also, if in answering someone who asked you "Why don't you have a car?" you could say quite grammatically, "If I had the money, I would buy a car." Or, if someone were to ask you, "How did you handle money when you were a young adult?" you could say, "If I had enough money, I bought a car." Jan 17, 2021 at 19:33

1 Answer 1


No “numbered conditionals” in English grammar

English does not have “numbered conditionals” — at least, not unless you number them in the thousands!

This is perfectly fine:

  1. If I had enough money left over at the end of the day, I always bought myself an ice-cream cone. But if I didn’t, I saved whatever small change remained in the piggy-bank on my dresser.

So is this:

  1. Aw shucks, if he left the house early that night, he did not hear us sing him Happy Birthday from the street corner!

But those two are quite different, of course. The first is habitual, but the second is not. These describe nothing but real pasts (had, bought, didn’t, saved, left, did), and there are no unreals or modals involved anywhere.

You probably meant to ask on our sister site for English Language Learners, but they have their own requirements.

  • I think you shouted this just as loud[ly] last time. I don't think you'll ever get an unconditional surrender. Jan 17, 2021 at 19:45

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