Unreal conditionals talk about hypothetical situations.
These situations have NO CHANCE of happening in real life.
There are 2 parts to unreal conditionals -
the if part
the would part
The if part has two possibilities, it can talk about the past, or it can talk about the present / future
The would part also has 2 possibilities, it can also talk about the past, or it can talk about the present / future
Just because the if part talks about the past, it does not mean that the would part must also talk about the past. You can mix the if part and the would part to talk about different situations:
If = Present / future / general ‘If I was rich (now)
Would = Present / future / general I would buy a house’ (now)
If = Past ’If I hadn’t missed the train (in the past)
Would = Past I wouldn’t have been late’ (in the past)
If = Past ‘If I had worked harder at school (in the past)
Would = Present / future / general I would have a good job’ (now)
If = Present / future / general ‘If I wasn’t so shy (in general)
Would = Past I would have asked her to come on a date with me’ (in the past)
So you can mix the if sentences and would sentences in any combination to match the situation you want to talk about. Click on the diagram below to see how to make sentences using this system, then why not test yourself with our exercises: Quiz, Gap-Fill, Match the Sentences, Worksheet.