Conditionals – zero and first real conditionals

First conditionals and Zero Conditionals are Real Conditionals

Normally Conditional sentences have two parts (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)


Zero Conditional

In the zero conditional the result is known:

  • If you heat water to 100º C, it boils.

This is a fact, it happens every time you heat water to 100ºC



  • If + present, present or Present/ if + present

Notice that if the “if clause” goes first we separate the two clauses with a comma.

  • Water boils if you heat it to 100ºC
  • If you heat water to 100ºC, it boils



These alternatives to “if” are possible in the zero conditional:

Whenever, every time or when

  • When you heat water to 100ºC, it boils
  • Every time you heat water to 100ºC, it boils.
  • Whenever you heat water to 100ºC, it boils.


In this form the four alternatives have no change in meaning.


Sometimes the sentences show things that are seen as scientifically proven:

  • If you put oil in water, it floats.
  • If you put the opposite poles of two magnets together, they attract.


We can also use it for situations where the result is certain if the “if clause”  is met 

  • If John studies two hours a day, he gets good marks. (whenever/ when/every time he studies two hours a day he always gets good marks,
  • If they have extra money at the end of the month, they put it in a special account. (When/whenever/every time they have extra money at the end of the month, they put it in a special account.)
  • If she meditates every morning, she is more relaxed.

 These situations have already happened, this why we know what the result will be if it happens again.


The First Conditional is also a Real conditional to show a situation that is possible:

More details of the First Conditional here

  • If she studies well, she’ll get a place at Oxford.

The Form is usually If + present tense, will +basic infinitive 

The result is possible if the condition in the if clause is met.

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