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English Conditionals 0 - 3rd Explained

English Conditionals 0 - 3rd Explained

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Published by: April Rissel on Dec 16, 2010
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English Conditionals

Zero Conditional: certainty
We use the so-called zero conditional when the result of the condition is always true, like a scientific fact. Take some ice. Put it in a saucepan. Heat the saucepan. What happens? The ice melts (it becomes water). You would be surprised if it did not. IF condition present simple If you heat ice result present simple it melts.

Notice that we are thinking about a result that is always true for this condition. The result of the condition is an absolute certainty. We are not thinking about the future or the past, or even the present. We are thinking about a simple fact. We use the present simple tense to talk about the condition. We also use the present simple tense to talk about the result. The important thing about the zero conditional is that the condition always has the same result.

We can also use when instead of if, for example: When

I

get up late I miss my bus.

Look at some more examples in the tables below: result IF condition present simple If If If If I miss the 8 o'clock bus I am late for work people don't eat you heat ice result present simple I am late for work. my boss gets angry. they get hungry. does it melt? present simple I am late for work My boss gets angry People get hungry Does ice melt if if if if IF condition present simple I miss the 8 o'clock bus. I am late for work. they don't eat. you heat it?

First Conditional: real possibility
We are talking about the future. We are thinking about a particular condition or situation in the future, and the result of this condition. There is a real possibility that this condition will happen. For example, it is morning. You are at home. You plan to play tennis this afternoon. But there are some clouds in the sky. Imagine that it rains. What will you do? IF condition result Sometimes, we use shall, can, or may instead of will, for example: If you are good today, you can watch TV tonight.

present simple

WILL + base verb

If

it rains

I will stay at home.

It is not raining yet. We are thinking about a particular condition in the future. The important thing about the second conditional is that there is an unreal possibility that the condition will happen. We are still thinking about the future. Here are some more examples: IF condition past simple result WOULD + base verb . will you stay at home? what will you do? WILL + base verb I will tell Mary He will invite Tara Their teacher will be sad Will you stay at home What will you do if if if if if IF condition present simple I see her. We use the present simple tense to talk about the possible future condition. and the result of this condition. no win! But maybe you will buy a lottery ticket in the future. could or might instead of would. So you can think about winning in the future. IF condition result past simple WOULD + base verb If I won the lottery I would buy a car. Is it possible to win? No! No lottery ticket. We use WILL + base verb to talk about the possible future result. she is free tomorrow. Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. but it's still possible. It's not very real. For example. it rains tomorrow? it rains tomorrow? Second Conditional: unreal possibility or dream The second conditional is like the first conditional. their teacher will be sad. We use WOULD + base verb to talk about the future result. they do not pass their exam. he will invite her.Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. Sometimes. Here are some more examples (do you remember the two basic structures: [IF condition result] and [result IF condition]?): result IF condition present simple If If If If If I see Mary Tara is free tomorrow they do not pass their exam it rains tomorrow it rains tomorrow result WILL + base verb I will tell her. But there is not a real possibility that this condition will happen. we use should. But the sky is cloudy and you think that it could rain. We use the past simple tense to talk about the future condition. for example: If I won a million dollars. like a dream. I could stop working. you do not have a lottery ticket. The important thing about the first conditional is that there is a real possibility that the condition will happen.

Sometimes. could have. Last week you bought a lottery ticket. With the third conditional we talk about the past. but with no possibility of the dream coming true. We use WOULD HAVE + past participle to talk about the impossible past result. Notice that we are thinking about an impossible past condition. That is why there is no possibility for this condition. The important thing about the third conditional is that both the condition and result are impossible now. she had been free yesterday. we use should have. it snowed next July? it snowed next July? Third Conditional: no possibility The first conditional and second conditionals talk about the future. would you be surprised? what would you do? result WOULD + base verb I would be happy She would marry Ram Would you be surprised What would you do IF condition past simple if if if if I married Mary. :-( condition Past Perfect If I had won the lottery result WOULD HAVE + Past Participle I would have bought a car. you might have won. We use the past perfect tense to talk about the impossible past condition. she would marry him. result WOULD HAVE + past participle I would have told Mary Look at some more examples in the tables below: IF condition result I would have invited Tara Their teacher would have been sad Would you have stayed at home What would you have done IF condition past perfect if if if if if I had seen her. and that particular condition can never be true because it is finished. But you did not win. We talk about a condition in the past that did not happen. for example: If you had bought a lottery ticket. he became rich. it had rained yesterday? it had rained yesterday? . might have instead of would have. You did not win the lottery. The third conditional is also like a dream. So the condition was not true. they had not passed their exam.If If If If I married Mary Ram became rich it snowed next July it snowed next July I would be happy.

If If I had seen Mary Tara had been free yesterday they had not passed their exam it had rained yesterday it had rained yesterday If their teacher would have been sad. If If would you have stayed at home? what would you have done? .past perfect WOULD HAVE + past participle I would have told her. I would have invited her.

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