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Conditionals Overview

Conditionals - Overview

1) Conditionals are sentences with two clauses – a main clause and an if clause. Conditionals state that the action in the main clause can only take place if a certain condition in the if clause is fulfilled.

If we don’t hurry, we will be late!

2) The order of the main and if clauses is not fixed. Although when the if clause precedes the main one, use a comma.

There are five main types of conditionals in English:
a) zero conditionals are used to describe things that are always or generally true. Thus we refer to the real and possible situations, general truths, or scientific facts. Zero conditionals follow the pattern:

If + present simple
present simple
If the food is too spicy,
drink milk.

b) conditionals type 1 or first conditionals are used to describe future events that will happen or are likely to happen. These sentences are based on facts, thus we make statements about the real world or particular situation. First conditionals follow the pattern:

If + present simple
future simple
If everything goes according to the plan,
we’ll be very rich.

c) conditionals type 2 or second conditionals are used to describe hypothetical, unlikely, or impossible situations. These sentences are not based on facts, thus we can refer to any time. Second conditionals follow the pattern:
If + past simple
would + V
If I won the lottery,
I would put the money in the bank.

d) conditionals type 3 or third conditionals are used to describe a past event that is different to what really happened. These sentences are solely hypothetical, thus there is always some implication of regret. Third conditionals follow the pattern:

If + past perfect
would have + Ved/past participle
If we hadn’t slept in,
we wouldn’t miss your flight.

e) mixed conditionals refer to conditional sentences that combine two different types of conditional patterns. They are used to refer to a time in the past, and a situation that is ongoing in the present. Mixed conditionals usually follow the pattern:

If + past perfect
would + V
If they had argued less,
they would be a perfect couple.

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