Conditionals – Simple Past and Past Perfect Tenses


 Simple Past and

Past Perfect Tenses

1. Simple Past Tense or Past Continuous Tense in “if clausewith would for actions that are imaginary or impossible.

Simple past tense  would  +   base form of the verb

If I owned this beautiful mansion  +  I would have a large pool on the top floor to relax in and enjoy the view. (imaginary)

If I were the president of the country, + I would allocate more money to help the poor and needy. (impossible situation)

We can also use other modal verbs like

could, might and should in place of would.

2. We used the simple past tense in the “if clause” and would when we give or ask for advice.

simple past tenses + would (or other modal)    

If the buyers offered you a    +    you should sell it.

good price or the house.                   (offer advice)

If you were in my position,    +    what would you do?

                                                            (ask for advice)

3.  We used the past perfect tense  in “if clause” and would have to refer to actions which never took place or results which would have been achieved if the actions had taken place.

Past Perfect Tense + would have + past participle of verb

If we hadn’t been so busy at the office, + we would have come to see you in hospital. (action never took place)

If our business partners had been honest,  +  our company would not have lost so much of the money. (what the result might have been if the action had taken place)


4. We used wish + Simple Past Tense to refer to an imaginary situition or event which we would like to happen by now.


I wish I was tall and slim so I could wear those elegant suits.

When we want to refer to an event in the past which we think should have turned out differently,

we use wish + Past Perfect Tense.


We wish we had remembered to buy a birthday gift for Anne last week.

(we didn’t buy a gift baecause we forgot)

P 63

For further details 

click on pages of other uses of conditinal

on the right hand column.

Uncle Teng


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