Introduction to Conditionals
A conditional sentence is often formed by the conjunction 'if'. As the name suggests, the occurrence of an event depends on the condition set out in the sentence. It expresses hypothetical situations and their consequences, or real situations which will result in specified outcomes if certain conditions are met.
Types of Conditionals
Zero conditional sentences express a factual implication, rather than describing a hypothetical situation or potential future circumstance. The condition and consequence are both seen as probable.
If + Present Simple, …. Present Simple
If it rains, the grass gets wet.
First conditional sentences are used to express conditions that are likely to happen in the present or future. It is used to talk about real and possible situations.
If + Present Simple, …. Will + Base Verb
If she arrives early, we will have time for coffee.
Second conditionals are used to express conditions that are hypothetical or unreal in the present or future. These sentences convey an action which is not yet confirmed.
If + Past Simple, …. Would + Base Verb
If I were a millionaire, I would buy a luxury car.
Third conditionals are used to express situations that did not happen in the past and their imaginary results.
If + Past Perfect, …. Would + Have + Past Participle
If I had known about your arrival, I would have picked you up.
Rules for Using Conditionals
1. In all conditional sentences, the 'if' part of the sentence (which is the condition) can be placed either at the beginning of the sentence or at the end. If the 'if' clause is at the beginning of a sentence, it should be followed by a comma (,).
If it rains, I will stay at home. (OR) I will stay at home if it rains.
2. Do not use 'will' or 'would' in the 'if' clause of a conditional sentence. The 'will' or 'would' is used in the result clause.
If I see her, I will tell her. (NOT If I will see her, I will tell her.)
Tips on Using Conditionals
1. In the zero conditional, both clauses are in the present simple tense.
2. In the first conditional, the 'if' clause uses the present simple tense, and the main clause uses the future simple.
3. In the second conditional, the 'if' clause uses the past simple, and the main clause uses 'would'.
4. In the third conditional, the 'if' clause uses the past perfect, and the main clause uses 'would have'.
Conditionals can be a tricky aspect of English grammar, but with understanding and practice, it gets a lot easier. The more you practice using them, the easier they will become. Remember, it’s all about creating meanings that you want to express!
Try creating your own sentences using each of the types of conditionals. This will help reinforce what you have learned in this tutorial.
Conditional sentences are a powerful tool for creating complex thoughts and ideas. Understanding the nuances of each type can take your English skills to the next level. So keep practicing and experimenting with these in your everyday language, and you will master them in no time.