Conditional II in English Grammar

Introduction

The tense conditional II is mostly used in the third conditional. The conditional II expresses an action that would have taken place in the past under different circumstances.

Learn about the conjugation and usage of the conditional II and put your skills to the test in our interactive exercises.

Example

The cake is delicious. If I’d had time in the afternoon, I would have helped you bake it.

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Usage

We use the English conditions II tense for:

  • actions that would have taken place in the past under other circumstances
    Example:
    If I had had time in the afternoon, I would have helped you bake the cake.

Conjugation of English Conditional II Tense

To conjugate the conditional II, we need the auxiliary verbs would + have and the base form or inifinitive of the main verb. Look at the table below for examples of positive, negative and interrogative conjugations.

positivenegativequestion
all forms are the same I would have played/spoken I would not have played/spoken Would I have played/spoken?

Past participle

The past participle of regular verbs is formed by adding -ed. For irregular verbs, we use the third verb form (see List of irregular verbs, 3rd column).

Exceptions

  • When a verb ends with -e, we simply add a -d.
    Example:
    love – loved (not: loveed)
  • The final consonant is doubled after a short stressed vowel.
    Example:
    admit – admitted
  • The final consonant -l is always doubled after a vowel in British English but not in American English.
    Example:
    travel – travelled (British)
    traveled (American)
  • A -y at the end of the word is replaced with an -i.
    Example:
    hurry – hurried

Contractions

Contractions are a combination of certain pronouns, verbs and the word not. They are mostly used in spoken and informal written English. The table below provides an overview of contractions in the conditional I tense using the verb would.

long formcontractionexample
would …’d they’d
would not …’d not/… wouldn’t I’d not/I wouldn’t

To Note

In written English, we usually form contractions with a pronoun and an auxiliary verb, but not with a noun and an auxiliary verb.

Example:
SHe’d not have helped her.
(but not: The boy’d/Tom’d not’ve helped her.)

The negated contractions, in which the verb and not are combined, can always be used (no matter what kind of word comes before them).

Example:
He wouldn’t have helped her.
The boy/Tom wouldn’t have helped her.