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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.

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

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

If If would you have stayed at home? what would you have done? . 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. I would have invited her.past perfect WOULD HAVE + past participle I would have told her.

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