conditional_sentences

Conditional sentences

Conditional sentences

conditional_sentencesConditional sentences are ‘if’ sentences. There are five types of conditional sentences:

  • zero conditional sentences
  • first conditional sentences
  • second conditional sentences
  • third conditional sentences
  • mixed conditional sentences

*Mixed conditionals are created from two different conditional forms.

Look at the table that follows for examples of each of the different types of conditional sentences.

The zero conditional If you heat ice, it melts.
The first conditional If I learn better English, I will get a better job.
The second conditional If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house.
The third conditional If I had studied harder, I would have passed my exam.
Mixed conditionals If I hadn’t broken my leg, I would be skiing right now.

The zero conditional

Structure 1 If + present simple + comma (,) + present simple
Example If you heat ice, it melts.
Structure 2 Present simple + if + present simple
Example Ice melts if you heat it.
Use We use the zero conditional to talk about rules, laws or truths. Using the example above, we know that if you heat ice, it melts; it is a fact that if the first part happens, then the second action will also happen.

The first conditional

Structure 1 If + present simple + comma (,) + will + base verb
Example If I learn better English, I will get a better job.
Structure 2 Will + base verb + if + present simple
Example I will get a better job if I learn better English.
Use We use the first conditional to talk about results that are likely; if the first part happens, then the second action will probably / be likely to also happen.

The second conditional

Structure 1 If + past simple + comma (,) + would + base verb
Example If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house in the country.
Structure 2 Would + base verb + if + past simple
Example I would buy a big house in the country if I won the lottery.
Use We use the second conditional to talk about a situation that is either not likely or even impossible; the speaker believes that they probably won’t win the lottery.

The third conditional

Structure 1 If + past perfect + comma (,) + would have + past participle
Example If I had studied harder, I would have passed my exam.
Structure 2 Would have + past participle + if + past perfect
Example I would have passed my exam if I had studied harder.
Use We use the third conditional to talk unreal situations, often involving regret. The third conditional talks about a situation that did not happen, but what the result would have been if it had.

Mixed conditionals

Mixed conditional sentences talk about unreal situations, they can talk about the past, present or future. Study the table below to learn how mixed conditional sentences can be put together.

NB: There are many different forms of mixed conditional.

Type 1 If I hadn’t broken my leg,
I would be skiing right now.
Past condition Present result

Type 2 If John hadn’t forgotten to buy tickets,
I would be going to the concert tomorrow night.
Past condition Future result

Type 3 If I could use a computer,
I would have got that job yesterday.
Present condition Past result

Type 4 If you could speak better English, you would be going on the business trip to London next week.
Present condition Future result

Click here to try the conditional sentences exercises.

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