Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Conditionals in English 

There are four conditionals in English; zero, first, second and third conditional. The conditional tense by definition is;  the mood or form that is used to say that something is true or happens only if something else is true or happens according to -Merriam Webster 

 

The four conditionals are:
  • The zero conditional -Only regarding facts, or to express a general truth
  • The first conditional -Used to talk about future events that could or might happen
  • The second conditional -Used to talk about a hypothetical, but possible future, and secondly, things or situations in the present that are impossible, or totally hypothetical.
  • The third conditional -Used in the past, and is completely hypothetical. It could also be used to theorise about impossible situations or things in the past.

 

(1) zero conditional – refers to facts, or to express a general truth. – if+present simple + present simple
  • If you touch the fire, you burn your skin
  • If water gets/reaches to 100 degrees Celsius, it boils.
  • If children are hurt, they cry.

 

(2) First conditional – used to talk about future events or situations that could/might happen. – if +present simple + will + infinitive 
  • If my teacher comes, she’ll give me my exam results.
  • Sam will succeed if he studies and works hard.
  • If the weather is nice, we’ll go out to the park for lunch.

 

(3) Second conditional – used to express future events or situations that are most likely to be hypothetical. -If + past simple + would + infinitive 
  • If only you knew more about that issue, we would be able to reach our target.
  • If I met the President of the United States, I would ask him some questions over the economy.
  • You would be able to travel more if you had more money.

 

(4) Third conditional – used for events or situations in the past that are completely hypothetical or imagined/made up. – if + past perfect + would + have + past participle 
  • If only my mum had known more about the sciences when she was growing up, so she would have shown more interest nowadays.
  • If you had been brought up in a third-world country, you wouldn’t have received a good education.
  • They would have seen the world if they had taken more interest in travelling when they were younger.
(5) Note that, it’s grammatically correct, in all the conditionals (0,1,2,3) to reverse the clauses, if need be. Example: (both are correct)
  • They would have seen the world if they had taken more interest in travelling when they were younger.
  • If they had taken more interest in travelling when they were younger, they would have seen the world.

 

 

See also: 

 


Have any doubts? Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.