REMEMBER: The second conditional is used to talk about unreal situations  (things that are impossible, that won’t happen, etc.) – Choose the correct response for each of the sentences:

1. If his nose was smaller, he _________ very handsome.
  would be

2. I would come if I _________ a car.
  would have

3. If she _________, she would tell him.

4. If his parents didn’t give him money, he ________ so much.
  wouldn’t go out
  didn’t go out

5. If she ________ me, she would have told me.
  didn’t believe
  wouldn’t believe

6. He wouldn’t say that if he ________ it.
  wouldn’t mean
  didn’t mean

7. I ________ on a trip around the world if I won the lottery.
  would go
  will go

8. I ________ that if I were you.
  will not do
  would not do

9. If these walls _________ thicker, we wouldn’t hear the neighbours.
  would be

10. If I were a millionaire, ________ a mansion.
  I’d buy
  I’m going to buy







Modal verbs in English:

can could may might will
would must shall should ought to


Modals are different from normal verbs:

1:  don’t use an ‘s’ for the third person singular.
2:  make questions by inversion (‘she can go’ becomes ‘can she go?’).
3:  are followed directly by the infinitive of another verb (without ‘to’).


First, they can be used when we want to say how sure we are that something happened / is happening / will happen. We often call these ‘modals of deduction’ or ‘speculation’ or ‘certainty’ or ‘probability’.

For example:

  • It’s snowing, so it must be very cold outside.
  • I don’t know where John is. He could have missed the train.
  • This bill can’t be right. £200 for two cups of coffee!

Click here to find out more about probability.



We use ‘can’ and ‘could’ to talk about a skill or ability.

For example:

  • She can speak six languages.
  • My grandfather could play golf very well.
  • can’t drive.

Obligation and Advice

We can use verbs such as ‘must’ or ‘should’ to say when something is necessary or unnecessary, or to give advice.

For example:

  • Children must do their homework.
  • We have to wear a uniform at work.
  • You should stop smoking.

Click here to find out more about obligation


We can use verbs such as ‘can’, ‘could’ and ‘may’ to ask for and give permission. We also use modal verbs to say something is not allowed.

For example:

  • Could I leave early today, please?
  • You may not use the car tonight.
  • Can we swim in the lake?


We can use ‘will’ and ‘would’ to talk about habits or things we usually do, or did in the past.

For example:

  • When I lived in Italy, we would often eat in the restaurant next to my flat.
  • John will always be late!


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