Tonight I taught the second conditional to my Pre-Intermediate 3 Teenager Class. If you don't know what the second conditional is don't feel bad -- I taught myself the second conditional about fifteen minutes before class started.
Basically the second conditional is this simple formula:
IF + subject + past simple, Subject + would + infinitive verb....
After I teach a grammar point I always ask my students to think up a sentence using that grammar point. I then go around the class to make sure everyone understands what we just learned. Well, here were the first three examples I got from my students:
1. If I (subject) had (past simple) a gun, I (subject) would kill (infinitive verb) everyone here.
2. If I (subject) were (past simple) you, I (subject) would kill (infinitive verb) myself.
3. If I (subject) had (past simple) an army, I (subject) would destroy (infinitive verb) America.
Yes, each one of these answers in America would surely lead to expulsion/police surveillance/heavy psych medications. However here all the other students just think it's hilarious. I laughed too but it was definitely a nervous laughter.
I did feel a little more at ease a few minutes later when the student who said #3 answered the question, "If you could live anywhere, where would you live?" with this response: "If I could live anywhere, I would live in the White House." This made me think he didn't hate America/Americans that badly....although as I'm typing this it occurs to me that he'd probably live there after he destroyed America.