A conditional is a statement that has two clauses (two parts).
The first states what one would do,
the second states the required conditional that would make the first part true.
The formula would be:
A wants B but cannot have B because A does not have C.
In sentence form it would look like this:
Jim wants a new car, but cannot have a new car because he does not have the money to buy a new car.
So, A = Jim, B = a new car, C = money.
In a conditional, the sentence would be:
Jim would buy a new car if he had the money.
The first part of the sentence tells us what Jim wants. (a new car)
The second part of the sentence tells us what he needs in order to get the new car. (money)
The sentence could also be stated:
If Jim had the money, he would buy a new car.
The word if functions as a conditional and is often used to talk about situations that are contrary to the fact. Contrary-to-fact situations are situations that are opposite of the true situation.Contrary-to-fact sentences with an if-clause and a result-clause are called conditional sentences. Special verb forms are used with conditional sentences. The simple past tense is used to discuss a present or future situation in the if-clause; would or could plus the simple form of the verb is used in the result-clause.
(a) I don't have any money.
Making a wish:
(b) I wish I had some money.
(c) If I had enough money, I would buy a car.
(d) If I had enough money, I could buy a car.
|(a) The weather isn't nice today.|
|Making a Wish|
|(b) I wish the weather were nice today.|
|(c) If the weather were nice today, I would go to the park.|
|(d) If the weather were nice today, I could go to the park.|
|(i) If I had enough money||I would buy a car.|
|(j) I would go to the park||if the weather were nice.|
In (i) and (j), the speakers are talking about a present situation (not having money and the weather not being nice) and a future situation that is contrary to the fact. In both the simple past is used in the conditional-clause., (if-clause)
(k) If I had enough money, I would buy a car.
(the speaker wants to buy a car.)
(l) If I had enough money, I could buy a car.
(The speaker is expressing a possibility.)
Would is used to express a desired result. (What the speaker wants.)
Could is used to express possible options. (Could = would be able to.)
(m) If the weather were nice, I'd go to the park.
(n) If I were you, I wouldn't do that.
In (m) and (n), were (not was) is used for singular subjects in the if-clause.
Ture vs. Contrary-to-Fact
|(a1) If you need some money, I will lend you some.|
|(a2) If you need some money, I can lend you some.|
|(b1) If you need some money, I would lend you some.|
|(b2) If you need some money, I could lend you some.|
In (a): If it is true that you need some money, I will ( or can) lend you some.
In (b): In truth, you really don't need any money. But if the opposite were true, I would (or could) lend you some.