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The first conditional

We use the First Conditional to talk about future events that are likely to happen.
If If If If we take John, he'll be really pleased. you give me some money, I'll pay you back tomorrow. they tell us they want it, we'll have to give it to them. Mary comes, she'll want to drive.

The 'if' clause can be used with different present forms.


If I go to New York again, I'll buy you a souvenir from the Empire State Building. If he's feeling better, he'll come. If she hasn't heard the bad news yet, I'll tell her.

The "future clause" can contain 'going to' or the future perfect as well as 'will'.
If I see him, I'm going to tell him exactly how angry I am. If we don't get the contract, we'll have wasted a lot of time and money.

The "future clause" can also contain other modal verbs such as 'can' and 'must'.
If you go to New York, you must have the cheesecake in Lindy's. If he comes, you can get a lift home with him.

Second conditional
The Second Conditional is used to talk about 'impossible' situations.
If If If If we were in London today, we would be able to go to the concert in Hyde Park. I had millions dollars, I'd give a lot to charity. there were no hungry people in this world, it would be a much better place. everyone had clean water to drink, there would be a lot less disease.

Note that after I / he/ she /it we often use the subjunctive form 'were' and not 'was'. (Some people think that 'were' is the only 'correct' form but other people think 'was' is equally 'correct' .)
If she were happy in her job, she wouldn't be looking for another one. If I lived in Japan, I'd have sushi every day. If they were to enter our market, we'd have big problems.

Note the form 'If I were you' which is often used to give advice.
If I were you, I'd look for a new place to live. If I were you, I'd go back to school and get more qualifications.

The Second Conditional is also used to talk about 'unlikely' situations.


If I went to China, I'd visit the Great Wall. If I was the President, I'd reduce taxes. If you were in my position, you'd understand.

Note that the choice between the first and the second conditional is often a question of the speaker's attitude rather than of facts. Compare these examples. Otto thinks these things are possible, Peter doesn't.
Otto If I win the lottery, I'll buy a big house. Peter If I won the lottery, I'd buy a big house. Otto If I get promoted, I'll throw a big party. Peter If I got promoted, I'd throw a big party. Otto If my team win the Cup, I'll buy champagne for everybody. Peter If my team won the Cup, I'd buy champagne for everybody.

Note that the 'If clause' can contain the past simple or the past continuous.
If I was still working in Brighton, I would commute by train. If she were coming, she would be here by now. If they were thinking of selling, I would want to buy.

Note that the main clause can contain 'would' 'could' or 'might.
If I had the chance to do it again, I would do it differently.

If we met up for lunch, we could go to that new restaurant. If I spoke to him directly, I might be able to persuade him. Also note that sometimes the 'if clause' is implied rather than spoken.

What would I do without you? ("if you weren't here") Where would I get one at this time of night? ("if I wanted one") He wouldn't agree. ("if I asked him")

Third conditional
We can use the Third Conditional to talk about 'impossible' conditions, impossible because they are in the past and we cannot change what has happened.

If I had worked harder at school, I would have got better grades. If I had had time, I would have gone to see him. But I didn't have time. If we had bought that house, we would have had to rebuild the kitchen. If we had caught the earlier train, we would have got there on time but we were late. Notice that the main clause can contain 'would', 'could' or 'might.

If I had seen him at the meeting, I would have asked him. (But he wasn't there so I didn't.) If I had seen him at the meeting, I could have asked him. ( But he wasn't there so it wasn't possible.) If I had seen him at the meeting, I might have asked him. (But I'm not sure. Perhaps if the opportunity had arisen.) If I had paid more attention in class, I would have understood the lesson. Also notice that sometimes the 'if clause' is implied rather than spoken.

I'd have done it. ("if you had asked me but you didn't.") I wouldn't have said that. ("if I'd been there.") He wouldn't have let him get away with that. ("if he had tried that with me.")

Zero conditional
When we talk about things that are generally or always true, we can use: If/When/Unless plus a present form PLUS present simple or imperative
If he gets there before me, ask him to wait. When you fly budget airline, you have to pay for your drinks and snacks. Unless you need more space, a small car is big enough for one person.

Note that we are not talking about a specific event but something which is generally true. In the condition clause, we can use a variety of present forms. In the result clause, there can only be the present simple or imperative.
If you visit London, go on the London Eye. If unemployment is rising, people tend to stay in their present jobs. If you've done that, go and have a coffee. When you go on holiday, take plenty of sun cream. It'll be very hot. When I'm concentrating, please don't make so much noise. When I've finished an article, I always ask Kate to read it through.

Notice that 'unless' means the same as 'if not'.


Unless he asks you politely, refuse to do any more work on the project. Unless prices are rising, it's not a good investment. Unless you've been there yourself, you don't really understand how fantastic it is.

second conditional quiz to help you practice.


1. If I were a bird, I... [ ] a. will fly and see many places. [ ] b. would fly and see many places. [ ] c. can fly and see many places. 2. If I were a computer,... [ ] a. I will be very stupid. [ ] b. I am very stupid. [ ] c. I would be very stupid.

3. If there were no police officers,... [ ] a. there would be so much crime in the streets. [ ] b. there will be so much crime in the streets. [ ] c. there won't be so much crime in the streets.

4. People would spend more time at home, if [ ] a. there were no restaurants. [ ] b. there are no restaurants. [ ] c. there will be no restaurants.

5. If I could speak Japanese, ... [ ] a. I will go to Japan. [ ] b. I would go to Japan. [ ] c. I am going to Japan. 7. If you were a colour,... [ ] a. what colour will you be? [ ] b. what colour would you be?

6. If you saw a thief stealing,... [ ] a. what would you do? [ ] b. what are you do? [ ] c. what are you doing? 8. If you were given 1 million dollars,... [ ] a. what will you do? [ ] b. what are you doing?

[ ] c. what colour are you be?

[ ] c. what would you do?

If you could spend a day with anyone, whom would you choose?

If you could have any view from your bedroom window, what would it be?

If you wanted to reward yourself what might you do to celebrate?

If you could magically do one thing, what would you do?

If you are feeling unmotivated, who helps you get yourself going?

If you learned you only had six months to live, how would you spend your time?

If you won a five-minute shopping spree at any store, where would you choose?

If you won a million dollars, what might you change about your life?

If you could make a movie, what would it be about?

If you were president, name three things that you would change about the country right away.

If you could invent something that would make life easier, what would it do?

If you could be an Olympic athlete, what event would you do?

Hypothetical situations in the present

To express a present or future hypothetical/ imaginary or contrary-tofact situation. It is called so because the condition is contrary to the facts or because it is very improbable. We use this conditional to imagine what would it be like if things were different. Condition Clause , Result Clause If/If only + past simple+ would If I were the president, I would end unemployment. If I were you, I'd start packing now. The result of the condition would be just a If he weren't so selfish, he might be happier. If war were to break out, I would emigrate to Mars. If + Simple past + might The result of the condition would be just a possibility If you drove drunk, you might have an accident. If he weren't so selfish, he might be happier. If + Simple past + could (the meaning of could here is would be able to If I had another 500, I could buy a car If + were to + would If war were to break out, I would emigrate to Mars I wish + past simple (wish here expresses something you want, but do not expect to happen. It does not express a simple desire.) What if + past simple Its time + past simple ( this often expresses disapproval of the current situation. e.g. Its time you went out and found a job because I cant afford tp pay for everything myself.) Imagine + past simple (e.g. I magine you had $1000,000 to spare......) Suppose + past simple (e.g. Suppose everyone went out and did the same thing....)

Past Events Affect Present Situations

REAL SITUATION When a cause-effect situation occurs in different time frames, it can be stated as a real situation past ==> present. You did not feed the dog, so the dog is hungry now.

HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION The same situation can be stated hypothetically with an implied meaning of regret or praise.

If you had fed the dog, she wouldn't be hungry now.(regret)

You fed the dog, so the dog isn't hungry If you hadn't fed the dog, she now. (She is content.) would behungry now. Thank you! (praise) The dog couldn't go outside, so the dog If the dog had gone outside, she peed on the floor. wouldn't have peed on the floor. (regret) The dog went outside, so the dog didn't pee on the floor.

If the dog hadn't gone outside, she would have peed on the floor. (praise)

The dog didn't go outside, so the dog is If the dog had gone outside, she peeing on the floor now. would wouldn't be peeing on the floor now. (regret)

CONDITIONAL SENTENCES: EXERCISE

Rephrase the following sentences into hypothetical conditionals like in the example:
e.g. You were not at home yesterday. Your little brother had an accident = If you had been at home yesterday, your little brother wouldn't have had an accident. 1.- I forgot the car keys at home. I was late for work. . 2.- She hasn't got a university degree. She'd like to have a better job. 3.- I spent all my money on cigarettes. I need a dictionary. 4.- You might see my sister. I need to tell her that our father's gone on a business trip. (t. I, use SHOULD). 5.- Susan is going to fail almost every subject this year. She wants to go to university. 6.- He's not handsome. He'd like to have a beautiful girlfriend. ( use MIGHT in the main clause). 7.- The prison warder was having lunch. The prisoners escaped. 8.- I need a typewriter. It costs a lot of money. 9.- I don't have enough time. I like reading very much. 10.- I don't like cooking. I always eat in restaurants

Put the verbs in brackets into the correct tense.


1. If I ................................. his address I'd give it to you. KNOW 2. He ................................. a lot better if he shaved more often. LOOK 3. If he worked more slowly he ............................. so many mistakes. NOT MAKE 4. More tourists would come to this country if it ........................ a better climate. HAVE 5. I .............................shares in that company if I had some money. BUY 6. If I ......................... a big prize I ............................... up my job. WIN GIVE 7. If someone ....................... you a helicopter, what would you do with it ? GIVE 8. I .......................... ruined if I ............................. her everything she wants. BE BUY 9. What .................... you ................. if you found a burglar in your house ? DO 10. What ................. she ...................... if I proposed to her ? SAY 11. If you ................ more sense you ....................... out with this guy. HAVE NOT GO 12. If I ................. a lot of money I ....................... champagne with every meal. HAVE DRINK 13. If only we ......................... a light ! It's terrible to sit in darkness. HAVE 14. If I were sent to prison, ...................... you ...................... me ? VISIT 15. I ............................ this wine if I ................................ you. NOT DRINK BE If I .................... you I ............................ there by myself. BE NOT GO 1. If I were a bird, I...

[ ] a. will fly and see many places. [x] b. would fly and see many places. [ ] c. can fly and see many places. 2. If I were a computer,... [ ] a. I will be very stupid. [ ] b. I am very stupid. [x] c. I would be very stupid. 3. If there were no police officers,... [x] a. there would be so much crime in the streets. [ ] b. there will be so much crime in the streets. [ ] c. there won't be so much crime in the streets. 4. People would spend more time at home, if [x] a. there were no restaurants. [ ] b. there are no restaurants. [ ] c. there will be no restaurants. 5. If I could speak Japanese, ... [ ] a. I will go to Japan. [x] b. I would go to Japan. [ ] c. I am going to Japan. 6. If you saw a thief stealing,... [x] a. what would you do? [ ] b. what are you do? [ ] c. what are you doing? 7. If you were a colour,... [ ] a. what colour will you be? [x] b. what colour would you be? [ ] c. what colour are you be? 8. If you were given 1 million dollars,... [ ] a. what will you do? [ ] b. what are you doing? [x] c. what would you do?