Microsoft vs. GM: a second conditional text

Here’s a funny text you can use to expose students to the second conditional – assuming, of course, that clauses expressing hypotheses can and indeed should be taught together and neatly divided into zero, first, second and third conditionals. I mean, where does “If she’s still mad, then she wouldn’t have sent you flowers” fit? But I digress. Here’s the text, packed with second conditional examples. Have fun.

second conditional GM microsoftAt a recent computer expo, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon.” In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release the very next week.

If Microsoft made cars, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart. If that happened, you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads.

6. If something went wrong, the oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single “general car failure” warning light.

7. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.

8. If you had an accident, the airbag system would say, “Are you sure?” before going off.

9. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna.

10. If GM introduced a new model, car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

11. If Microsoft made cars, you would press the “start” button to shut off the engine.

12. We would all have to switch to Microsoft Gas if we bought a Microsoft car.

13. If you were driving downhill really fast, with the headlights, air conditioning and CD player on at the same time, you would get the following message: “This car has performed an illegal operation and will be shut”.

I can’t acknowledge the source of this brilliant text, since slightly different versions have been circulating on the web for at least 7 years. The one you’ve just read was my own selection of the funniest sentences plus a few more second conditional examples thrown in here and there.

Thanks for reading.

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