Conditional Sentences

A conditional sentence is a sentence where one action depends on another action. There are four types:

  • Zero conditional
  • First conditional
  • Second conditional
  • Third conditional

Zero Conditional

Talks about something as a fact.

  • If you eat a lot, you put on weight.
  • The cat meows if you talk to it.
  • When she goes shopping, she buys expensive clothes.

First Conditional

Talks about the result of a possible future event. The present simple tense is used in the if-clause, and the future simple tense used in the main clause.

  • If I see her, I’ll tell her.
    (if-clause/present simple/possible future event – main clause/future simple/result)
  • If you cook the dinner, I’ll wash the dishes.
  • She’ll be late if the train is delayed.

Second Conditional

Talks about the result of an unlikely event or something untrue being true. The unlikely event or untrue thing is in the if-clause.

  • If you became an insomniac, you would understand.
    (if-clause/unlikely event/If you became an insomniac – the result of an unlikely event/you would understand)
  • If I met the King, I would invite him for tea and biscuits.
  • If I were Karen, I would buy that house.
    (untrue/If I were Karen – result/I would buy that house)
  • She would travel all over the world if she were rich.

Third Conditional

Talks about how an event would be different with a different past. The different past is in the if-clause.

  • If my alarm had gone off, I wouldn’t have missed my bus.
    (if-clause/different past/If my alarm had gone off – event would be different/I wouldn’t have missed my bus)
  • If she had apologised, I wouldn’t have been so angry.
  • I would have gone to the shop if it hadn’t rained.