A Song with Second Conditional & Present Tenses

We often use the Second Conditional to talk about how we would like things to change (our life, other people, the world). Sometimes, we are not satisfied with a current situation and imagine how it could/would improve, if …

‘If I earned a lot of money, I would buy a car.
If I had a car, I wouldn’t have to walk to work.’

Frequently, the wished-for result is the opposite of what is true now. The above speaker does not have a car. He/she has to walk to work.

The Second Conditional describes hypothetical situations and their hypothetical results. How would you express the above situations in your language? Surely every language has a structure for expressing hypothetical situations?  Thinking about how we could change and improve our lives is a very common human trait! For the English rules and practice exercises, check out my earlier post, here.

Today, to give you an example of how we use Second Conditional, I am featuring a song, If You Could See Her Through My Eyes, from the movie Cabaret. The movie is set in Berlin, in 1931, under the growing presence of the Nazi Party.

The lyrics of this song point out how human relationships would be  improved if people were more tolerant – if they could see a person through the singer’s eyes. The situation is hypothetical – people do not see her the way the singer sees her. The result is also hypothetical – it is the opposite of what is true now. Present Simple and Present Continuous explain what is real and what is happening now.

The Second Conditional If clause is in bold print with the main clause underlined. The Present Simple is pink and the Present Continuous is blue.

Song: If You Could See Her Through My Eyes


I know what you’re thinking.
You wonder why I chose her
Out of all the ladies in the world.
It’s just a first impression.
What good’s a first impression?
If you knew her like I do,
It would change your point of view.

If you could see her through my eyes,
You wouldn’t wonder at all.
If you could see her through my eyes,
I guarantee you would fall,
Like I did.
When we’re in public together,
I hear society moan,
But if they could see her through my eyes,
Maybe they’d leave us alone.

How can I speak of her virtues?
I don’t know where to begin.
She‘s clever; she’s smart; she reads music.
She doesn’t smoke or drink gin,
Like I do.
Yet when we’re walking together,
They sneer if I’m holding her hand,
But if they could see her through my eyes,
Maybe they’d all understand.

Why don’t they leave us alone?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you:
Is it a crime to fall in love?
Can one ever choose where the heart leads us?
All we ask is ‘Ein bißchen Verständnis’, a little understanding!

Why can’t the world ‘Leben und leben lassen’,  live and let live?

Oh, I understand your objection,
I grant you, the problem’s not small;
But if you could see her through my eyes,
She wouldn’t look Jewish at all!

           

This entry was posted in Advanced (Level 6+), Cambridge, Grammar, IELTS, Intermediate (Level 4), Listening, Pre-Intermediate (Level 3), Songs, Upper Intermediate (Level 5), Videos and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Song with Second Conditional & Present Tenses

  1. Songs are wonderful ways to learn English !


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