Introduction to English conditional sentences
What is a Conditional sentence in English?
Normally they have two parts (we call them “clauses“)
One part (clause) which usually starts with “if” gives a condition,
The other part gives us a result if that condition is true.
- If it rains (conditional clause) I will take an umbrella (result clause)
This means: it rains –> I take an umbrella
(and probably) It doesn’t rain –> I don’t take an umbrella
There can be real and unreal conditions, possible and impossible conditions.
Sometimes they are classified as:
- Zero conditional
- First (1st) Conditionals
- Second (2nd) Conditionals
- Third (3rd) Conditionals
- Mixed Conditionals
The Real conditionals are classified into
- Zero conditionals – If you heat water to 100º, it boils … this is always true
- First conditionals – If it’s a nice day, I will go to the beach … I’m sure I will do it
These are real conditionals because if the conditional clause is met the result is certain
The Unreal conditionals are classified into:
- Second Conditionals – If I had more money I would change my car .. I don’t have more money so I can’t change my car
- Third Conditionals – If Mary had studied harder she would have passed her exams ……… she didn’t study hard enough so she didn’t pass her exams.
These are unreal conditionals because they refer to situations that are untrue, impossible or hypothetical. The third conditional for example refers to a situation that is past and is impossible to change
- Zero conditionals – real conditionals
- First conditionals – real conditionals
- Second Conditionals – Unreal Conditionals
- Third Conditionals – Unreal conditionals
- Mixed conditionals – unreal conditionals