Real and Unreal Conditions in English Grammar

Do you know how to use real and unreal conditions in English Grammar?

real and unreal conditions in English Grammar







A student emails me a question about Real and Unreal Conditions in English Grammar.

First of all, here is her question:

Hi Micheal,

Thanks for your detailed feedback. I really appreciate it.
I want to get a clarification about real and unreal condition sentences. In my response (Q2), I said: “If it was an interview and it was successful, the interviewee would think that his…” In the feedback, you corrected me by saying: “If there were an interview and they were successful, the interviewee would think that his…”. Maybe I didn’t hear well, so forgive me. From my understanding, the change is from singular to plural. I want to understand why to change it from singular to plural. 
I also looked at the differences between real and unreal condition sentences on the internet, which confused me even more. The sentence above seems to be a real condition (since they talked about specific types of people and their possible responses depend on their type)… If that the case, the sentence should be “If there were an interview and they were successful, the interviewee thought that his…”. Or maybe it is not a real condition sentence…
Can you please help me to understand that grammar issue?
Thank you very much!


I answer her question in the following YouTube video.

Second of all, sometimes during the speaking or writing section of the TOEFL exam, you will need to convey hypothetical or improbable ideas. In these cases, for example, you have three ways of doing this:

  • Present possible: If I have time, I will watch a movie with you.
  • Present impossible: If I had time, I would watch a movie with you.
  • Past impossible If I had had time, I would have watched a movie with you.

Finally,the below video will explain what verb tenses are appropriate when you are trying to communicate in this type of manner.


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