Never put off until tomorrow, what can be done today

conditional sentences

TYPE 1 CONDITIONAL

1. Form

In a Type 1 conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if clause is the simple present, and the tense in the main clause is the simple future

2. Function

In these sentences, the time is the present or future and the situation is real. They refer to a possible condition and its probable result. They are based on facts, and they are used to make statements about the real world, and about particular situations. We often use such sentences to give

warnings:

  • If you don’t leave, I’ll call the police.
  • If you don’t drop the gun, I’ll shoot!

Examples:

  •  If you drop that glass, it will break.
  •  Nobody will notice if you make a mistake.
  •  If I have time, I’ll finish that letter.
  •  What will you do if you miss the plane?

NOTE: We can use modals to express the degree of certainty of the result:

  • If you drop that glass, it might break.
  • I may finish that letter if I have time.

 

TYPE 2 CONDITIONAL SENTENCES

1. Form

In a Type 2 conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if’ clause is the simple past, and the tense in the main clause is the present conditional:

Present conditional, form

The present conditional of any verb is composed of two parts – the modal auxiliary would + the infinitive of the main verb (without ‘to’.)

Would: Contractions of would

In spoken English, would is contracted to ‘d.

I’d                     We’d
you’d                 you’d
he’d, she’d         they’d

The negative contraction = wouldn’t.

Example: to accept, Present conditional

2. Function

In these sentences, the time is now or any time, and the situation is unreal. They are not based on fact, and they refer to an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result. The use of the past tense after ‘if’ indicates unreality. We can nearly always add a phrase starting with “but”, that expresses the real situation:

  • l If the weather wasn’t so bad, we would go to the park (…but it is bad, so we can’t go)
  • If I was the Queen of England, I would give everyone £100. (...but I’m not, so I won’t)

Examples of use:

1. To make a statement about something that is not real at present, but is

possible:

I would visit her if I had time. (= I haven’t got time but I might have some time)

Examples:

a. If I was a plant, I would love the rain.
b. If you really loved me, you would buy me a diamond ring.
c. If I knew where she lived, I would go and see her.
d. You wouldn’t need to read this if you understood English grammar.
e. Would he go to the concert if I gave him a ticket?
f. They wouldn’t invite her if they didn’t like her
g. We would be able to buy a larger house if we had more money

NOTE: It is correct, and very common, to say “If I were” instead of “If I was“.

 

TYPE 3 CONDITIONAL SENTENCES

1. Form

In a Type 3 conditional sentence, the tense in the ‘if’ clause is the past perfect, and the tense in the main clause is the perfect conditional:

Perfect conditional – form

The perfect conditional of any verb is composed of two elements: would + the perfect infinitive of the main verb (=have + past participle):

Example: to go, Past conditional

In these sentences, the time is past, and the situation is contrary to reality. The facts they are based on are the opposite of what is expressed.

Type 3 conditional sentences, are truly hypothetical or unreal, because it is now too late for the condition or its result to exist. There is always an unspoken “but…” phrase:

  • If I had worked harder I would have passed the exam
    (but I didn’t work hard, and I didn’t pass the exam).

NOTE: Both would and had can be contracted to ‘d, which can be confusing. Remember that you NEVER use would in the IF-clause, so in the example above, “If I’d known” must be If I had known“, and I’d have baked” must be would have baked..”

Examples:

a. If I’d known you were in hospital, I would have visited you.
b. I would have bought you a present if I’d known it was your birthday.
c. If they’d had a better goalkeeper they wouldn’t have lost the game.
d. If you had told me you were on the Internet, I’d have sent you an e-mail.
e. Would you have bought an elephant if you’d known how much they eat?

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