if clause type 2

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Senior Member
Hello friends,

I wonder which one is better / correct to use.

1- If she were younger, she would climb the mountain.

2- If she was younger, she would climb the mountain.

I know if I were you is used for 2nd conditional, but I am confused which one is correct after she,he,it.

Thanks in advance.
  • cropje_jnr

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    This has been discussed numerous times on these forums. Here's a typical discussion on the matter.

    You will find that the general conclusion is that both are possible in all first, second and third person forms.

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm not sure I entirely agree with Cropje here, and I'm a firm believer in use of the indicative for conditions which could be met.

    For me the question is Could she be younger? Answer no, if we are talking of an individual; time doesn't go backwards, so this is a condition which could not be met and the sentence needs the subjunctive.

    Just as we say

    If I were you:tick:, and not If I was you:cross:.

    we say

    If I were younger, and not If I was younger:cross:.

    So, assuming that the she in the sentence is an actual individual person, it should be

    If she were younger:tick::).

    However, if you are talking about girls in general, and saying a girl might do this, or a girl might do that, then clearly you aren't talking about a particular individual girl, but looking at girls in a generalised way, though using the phrase a girl to do so, then clearly one girl could be younger than another girl. In these circumstances,

    If she was younger:tick::) would be entirely correct.
    Last edited:


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Just in case you thought this was easy, here is a third perspective.
    The contrary-to-fact present conditional (sometimes referred to as the "second" conditional) is used to refer to a current state or event that is known to be false or improbable. The past subjunctive (or in colloquial English, simply the past tense) must be used...
    The past subjunctive form is were for all of I, you, we, he, she, it, they.
    So "If she were..." or colloquially, and with increasing acceptance, "If she was...".


    Hi there.This may help

    If ( II ) + Simple Past, main clause with Conditional I (= would + Infinitive)
    Example: If I found her address, I would send her an invitation.
    The main clause can also be at the beginning of the sentence. In this case, don't use a comma.
    Example: I would send her an invitation if I found her address.
    Note: Main clause and / or if clause might be negative. See Simple Past and Conditional I on how to form negative sentences.
    Example: If I had a lot of money, I wouldn’t stay here.
    (Were) instead of (Was)
    In IF Clauses Type II, we usually use‚were‘– even if the pronoun is I, he, she or it.
    Example: If I were you, I would not do this.
    Conditional Sentences Type II refer to situations in the present. An action could happen if the present situation were different. I don't really expect the situation to change, however. I just imagine „what would happen if …“
    Example: If I found her address, I would send her an invitation.
    I would like to send an invitation to a friend. I have looked everywhere for her address, but I cannot find it. So now I think it is rather unlikely that I will eventually find her address.
    Example: If John had the money, he would buy a Ferrari.
    I know John very well and I know that he doesn't have much money, but he loves Ferraris. He would like to own a Ferrari (in his dreams). But I think it is very unlikely that he will have the money to buy one in the near future.
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