Third Conditional – Fake Past

Third Conditional – Fake Past

The third conditional is not used as frequently as the others, but it is still a good one to know. In this case we are talking about an unreal past (something in the past that didn’t happen) and the result of that condition.

“If I hadn’t drunk so much last night I wouldn’t have had a hangover this morning.”


We use past perfect for the condition (“If + had + participle”) since we are talking about a completed event in the past that doesn’t affect the present. In the main clause we have our modal (would, wouldn’t, might, may…)+ have + past participle.

Wow, I know this one sounds complicated. Just think of it as two fake stories in the past.

“If I hadn’t drank so much last night…”


Fake past, didn’t happen. I actually drank a lot.

“I wouldn’t have had a hangover this morning”


Fake past, didn’t happen. I did have a hangover.


The third conditional is often used to express regret :

“If I hadn’t drank so much last night I wouldn’t have lost my phone”

or to admonish others

“If you had studied for the test you wouldn’t have failed.”

“If” Part 3- Second Conditional

Second Conditional – Fantasy

The Second Conditional deals with if-clauses that are unreal. We use it for hypothetical situations, unlikely situations or impossible situations.

Hypothetical: “What would I do, if I lived until I was 130 years old?”


Unlikely: “If I won the lottery, I would buy a car.”


Impossible: “If I were an animal, I would be a tiger.”



These sentences are not facts like zero conditional (I have never had this exact experience) and they are not predictions like first conditional (I don’t think these things are likely to happen).

The Second conditional is just fantasy. The “if” part is always something that is not true right now.

The Second conditional looks like it is in past tense, but it actually isn’t. It is in the “subjunctive mood”. It’s a little complicated, but just know that the Subjunctive isn’t talking about past, present or future – it is just a fantasy situation with no relation to time. It looks almost exactly like past tense, except that the be-verb is always “were” (never “was”).

Zero Conditional

“If I win the lottery I buy a car” = fact =  this person has won the lottery many times, and every time they did they bought a car. This sounds strange.

First Conditional

“If I win the lottery I will buy a car” = prediction = this person has probably bought a lottery ticket and thinks they will win in the future.

Second Conditional

“If I won the lottery, I would buy a car.” = fantasy = This person hasn’t won the lottery, they are just having a fantasy thought.


“If” Part 2 – First Conditional

First Conditional – Predictions

The 1st conditional is very common, we use it for situations that are likely to occur. As with all conditionals there are two parts: the conditional clause and the main clause. The conditional clause will start with the word “if”.

If I drop my phone, it will break.”

drop phone 4.jpg

“If I drop my phone” is the condition. You are saying that if that happens then the result will be the main clauseIt will break.

“If I drop my phone” is in present tense because you are talking about a real action that could happen now.

The result is in future tense, because we think that result will happen after.

Unlike the zero conditional, which states general facts or results that are always true, the first conditional deals with specific incidents. These situations haven’t happened yet, but they are possible and likely.

Zero Conditional:

When I drop my phone it breaks.” = “Every time I drop this phone it always breaks” = I have experienced dropping this same phone in the past, and so I know what the result will be.


First conditional:

If I drop my phone, it will break.” = “If I drop my phone now, it will break as a result” = I have never dropped this phone, but based on my knowledge (similar experience, logic etc.) I think I know what will happen.



The main clause uses future tense because that’s what we use for likely events.

I will go swimming tomorrow.” This hasn’t happened- but it is a likely plan.

“If it doesn’t rain, I will go swimming tomorrow.” We have the same sentence, but now with a condition.

“That doesn’t sound like___”

“Did you hear that Jack got 100% on the math test?”

“Really, that doesn’t sound like Jack”


“That doesn’t sound like ____” is  a way of showing disbelief or doubt at something.

“That doesn’t sound like Jack” = “That doesn’t sound like something Jack would do.”

The phrase isn’t focused on any sound that Jack makes, it’s about whether the story about Jack sounds true. We use it when we hear about someone doing something that is against their nature.

“Trump just apologized for his rude comments on Twitter.”

“That doesn’t sound like him.”


We can also use in the opposite way “That sounds like ____” when they do something that is typical of what we know of their personality. This can be used in a positive way:

“Jane didn’t go on vacation this year. Instead she gave the money she had saved for vacation to charity.”

“That sounds like Jane.” This means “That sounds like a story that is true about her, because I know she is kind.”

It can be used in a negative way too:

“Did you hear that Jack cheated on the math test?”

“That sounds like Jack.” = “I know that Jack is a cheater.”


아래있는 영상에 이 표현이 있어요. 보잭 홀스만은 “Washed up actor” (인기있던 시대가 지냈고 더 이상 유명하지않는 배우)이고  다이앤이라는 전기 작가이랑 이얘기 하고 있어요:

Here’s a clip from a TV show that has this phrase. Bojack Horseman is a washed up (no longer popular or successful) actor talking to Diane, a woman who is writing a book about him.


Diane: you told me to come at 9
Bojack: That doesn’t sound like me
Diane (reading phone) :Why don’t you come over Tuesday morning at 9.
Also you should bring this email because I might not remember it because just took a bunch of horse tranquilizers, haha. Also, please don’t put in my book that I use horse tranquilizers”. Then I think you fell asleep on the keyboard, because it just says the letter “b” twenty seven times

Bojack: That does sound like me.


In this clip Bojack says that meeting someone at 9am “doesn’t sound like him”, he doesn’t think he is the kind of person that would make an early appointment.

At the end of the clip Diane says that Bojack had taken drugs and fell asleep on his computer keyboard, to which Bojack says “That does sound like me.” He thinks he is that kind of person.



Bojack Horseman is a strange show, and definitely not for kids. But it can be funny and sad. Check it out on Netflix if you want.

Idiom “Speak of the devil”

“Janine, when am I going to get a chance to meet that new boyfriend of yours? Oh, speak of the devil, here he is now!”

“Speak of the devil.” is an old idiom that is derived from the superstition “Speak of the devil and he will appear.” In olden times people were afraid to say the name of the biblical devil (Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub… he had many names) because they thought that would draw his attention and he would come after they said his name.

These days we use it to indicate that soon after we mention someone they suddenly show up. We know it is coincidence, but we use the idiom: “Speak of the devil” as if our conversation had some power. Since it is such a coincidence to mention someone and have them appear this phrase is usually said with some surprise.

“Speak of the devil, we were just talking about you!”

Although the phrase originates from calling the devil, an evil creature, we use it very neutrally these days. It doesn’t have to have a negative meaning. You will be able to tell from the tone of voice.

“Where is Gus today? Oh. Speak of the devil, you’re late again Gus!”

“I can’t wait until the postman gets here. Speak of the devil! I’m dying for my mail”


Nature Sky Landscape Dark Trees Gloomy Road

“It was a gloomy day, the clouds were thick in the air.”
“Gloomy” can literally mean “dark” and we can use it to describe a physical place:

photo-134479“The basement apartment was gloomy, with little natural light.”

Or weather:
“The weather has been gloomy all week.”
It can also be used to describe an atmosphere of sadness, something that can make people sad.

“Edgar Allan Poe wrote brilliant but gloomy stories.”
“When it comes to war the future looks gloomy.”

We can use it for other people, to say they have an atmosphere of sadness around them.

“You look a little gloomy today, is anything the matter?”

When you see the person you can sense a dark, sad atmosphere around them. You don’t know the reason for the sadness, so you call it a general “gloom”- it is a bit of a mystery.

It is however, not often used for talking about oneself:


“I’ve just been feeling a little gloomy lately.”


Is slightly unnatural, because if you think you are surrounded by a ”gloom” means that you don’t know the cause of the bad feelings, it’s just a sad atmosphere.
It is far more common to say that:
“I’ve been feeling a little down lately.”
“I’ve been feeling a little depressed these days”

When you talk about yourself bad feelings usually aren’t a mystery, so don’t use “gloomy” too often.

Idioms – On the ball

“Lucy is really on the ball, she already finished all her essays for this term.”

“Samsung is really on the ball with their new smartphone, it addresses user needs perfectly.”

“On the ball” is an idiom with a positive meaning. It means that someone is competent and attentive, able to do a good job because of their focus. It can also mean that someone is knowledgeable and alert, able to pay attention to new trends and ideas.

eye on ball.png
The origin is believed to be from sports. Coaches would tell players “Keep your eye on the ball telling them to look at and pay attention to the ball, and not get distracted. We use it now for people that exhibit good focus or for people that are successful in something because of competent actions.
“Lucy is really on the ball, she already finished all her essays for this term.” = Lucy has used her focus and hard work to be successful in completing her work quickly.
“Samsung is really on the ball, with their new smartphone, it addresses user needs perfectly.” = The Samsung company is really aware of current trends and needs, and uses that knowledge to make a successful smartphone.