Conditionals

“If it rains then you could get wet.”

 

“If you had exercised then you would have felt tired at work.”

 

“I will eat food if I am hungry.”

These are all examples of conditionals. In English, conditionals are used when we want to say what will / could happen, what might have happened (if things had been done differently), and what we want to happen. These sentences often use the words ‘if‘, ‘then‘ & ‘unless‘. There are 5 types of conditional sentences in English.

Zero conditional

This is used for situations that are always true. When this is used, the time is always in the present or always and we use the simple present tense.

If + Simple present

  • If the sun goes down then it will be dark.
  • If you freeze water then it will turn into ice.
  • The ground will be wet if it rains.

 

First conditional

The first conditional is used for situations that are real and possible. When it is used, the time is the present or anytime and we have to use the simple present tense again.

  • If I work very hard then I can earn a lot of money.
  • If I am free tomorrow then I will visit my friend.
  • I will buy some more food if my fridge is empty.

Second conditional

The second conditional is used for situations that are unreal or unlikely. It is also used in the present or future and we have to use the simple past tense + ‘would‘.

  • If I had a lot of money then I would be very happy.
  • If I travelled more then I would be more cultured.
  • I would be very famous if I was an actor.

Third conditional

The third conditional is used for situations that didn’t happen in the past and their imaginary results. We have to use the past perfect tense + ‘would have‘.

  • If I had trained more then I would have won the competition.
  • If I had woken up earlier then I wouldn’t have been late.
  • I would have been very famous if I had invented the telephone.

Mixed conditional

The mixed conditional is when we use multiple conditionals and mix them together. For example we could combine the second and third conditional to make the following sentences:-

  • If I had worked more then I would still be employed.
  • If I had eaten less then I wouldn’t be fat now.
  • I would be very happy if I had done that.

Practise exercise

Fill in the gap for each sentence:-

If I had studied German more, I ... been able to speak to more people at the party.
If you have two apples and I have five apples then we ... seven apples.
If I had a pound for every time you said that I ... rich!
I ... a new TV if I have enough money.
Smoke ... produced if wood is burned.
If I had won the lottery I ... moved to another country.
If I study a lot I ... improve.
I ... outside if it is sunny today.
I ... if the other team hadn't cheated.
If I ate less I ... thinner.