Introduction to conditionals

by | Oct 28, 2017 | English Grammar Lesson | 0 comments

Conditionals in English are also called if-clauses. There are 4 types of conditionals in English: zero conditional, first conditional, second conditional and third conditional. They express some kind of a condition – there is a tye between two events in a sentence, and there is some kind of a condition in the first action, which affects the second action. 

Watch the video lesson below to learn more about these 4 conditionals found in the English language.

Watch the video lesson for an introduction to when and how to use the zero, first and second and third conditional in English.

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We also call conditionals in English if-clauses. There are 4 types of conditionals in English, and they express some kind of a condition – there is some kind of a condition in the first action, which affects the second action, in sentences where there is a connection between two events.

If you heat water to 100 degrees, it boils.

If babies are hungry, they cry.

This is the Zero Conditional. The form is: if + present simple, … present simple. So, you use only one tense, present simple. You use the zero conditional then the result will always happen, we use it for general facts, something that is unquestionable and always true (general truths).

If you touch a fire, you get burned.

I’m allergic to peanuts. So, if I eat a peanut, I get sick. 

If it rains, the grass gets wet.   When it rains, the grass gets wet.

In zero conditional sentences, you can replace the word “if” by the word “when” without changing the meaning.

If it rains tomorrow, we will go to the cinema.

If I study now, I will go to the party in the evening.

This is the First Conditional. We form it with two tenses – present simple and will future. So, the form is always the same: if + present simple, … will + infinitive. We use it when talking about things which might happen in the future. Of course, we can’t know what will happen in the future, but this describes possible things, which could easily come true. It expresses a possible condition and a probable result.

If the train is delayed, she will be late.

She’ll miss the bus if she doesn’t leave soon.

In this example we see that we need to pay attention to the form – present simple always follows „if“. The inverted structure is possible, but you need to pay attention not to mix the tenses up.

The difference between the zero and the first conditional is that the first conditional describes a particular situation, whereas the zero conditional describes what happens in general.

If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.

The is the Second Conditional. The second conditional uses the past simple after if, then ‘would’ and the infinitive: if + past simple, …would + infinitive

If I won the lottery, I would buy a big house.

So, first, we can use it to talk about things in the future that are probably not going to be true. So, when we talk about some dreams, our imaginations, something not highly possible. It expresses a hypothetical condition and its probable result.

If I had his number, I would call him.

If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.

Second, we can use it to talk about something in the present which is impossible, because it’s not true. So, again, it’s something that is not possible.

If I had gone to bed early, I wouldn’t have slept through my alarm.

This is the final one, the Third Conditional. We make the third conditional by using the past perfect after ‘if’ and then ‘would have’ and the past participle in the second part of the sentence: if + past perfect, …would + have + past participle

If she had studied, she would have passed the exam.

She wouldn’t have been tired if she had gone to bed earlier.

It talks about the past. We use it to describe a situation that didn’t happen and imagine the result of this situation (that never happened, so it not a probable situation). It expresses an unreal past condition and its probable result in the past.

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