First, let’s get to know something about conditional conjunctions. Conditional conjunctions include as long as, if, provided, should, since, and unless. We use conditional conjunctions to show that something will happen on the condition that something else happens or to describe a hypothetical or unreal situation. We do this by making one clause in a sentence subordinate to or dependent on another clause (subordinate clause / dependent clause) within the same sentence. Such a sentence is referred to as a conditional sentence as it contains a conditional clause.

 

There is a good variety of conditional conjunctions

 

Examples:

  • As long as you drink moderately, you won’t get drunk.
  • If you like to have one, I will buy it for you.

  • You can come along provided you behave yourself.

  • Should you feel seasick, you could lie in the cabin.

  • Since it is quite late, no shops are open.

  • She will not go for dinner with him unless he pays for it.

 

In this lesson on conditionals, only the conditional conjunction if is used throughout. Conditional sentences using other conditional conjunctions are about similar in constructions

A conditional relates to a sentence that expresses a condition. A conditional sentence is made up of two clauses, the first of which is the conditional clause and it starts with if, unless, when, etc. Most commonly, it starts with if and we refer to it as the if-clause (or if clause or ‘if’ clause). The if-clause contains a condition, which if fulfilled another action will take place.

The other clause of the conditional sentence is the main clause (or result clause). The main clause shows the effect of the action taken or if taken in the if-clause. The if-clause usually comes before the main clause although the reverse is possible. A comma comes after the if-clause if the clause comes before the main clause, but if the main clause comes earlier, no comma is required.

An example should make it clear:

Examples:

  • If the building is unsafe, you enter at your own risk.*
  • You enter at your own risk if the building is unsafe.

 

(In the first conditional sentence, the if-clause comes before the main clause. Comma required.)

*This conditional uses the simple present tense in both parts of the sentence and is described as the fourth type known as the ‘zero’ conditional.

There are three main types of conditional. They are commonly referred to as the First Conditional, the Second Conditional, and the Third Conditional. (or simply, Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 Conditionals.)

Each of these is explained further in the following sections: