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What is a Conditional Sentence?

A conditional sentence is a sentence that expresses a condition. A condition is


something that can only happen IF something else occurs.

A conditional sentence contains an independent clause and a dependent


clause that almost always begins with “if.” A conditional sentence is only a
conditional sentence if it has both of these parts.
Some conditional clauses might begin with “when.”

Conditional Sentence Examples

 If I save enough, I can


go on vacation.
 The dependent clause is “If I save enough.”
 The independent clause is “I can go on vacation.”
 You can have dessert if you finish your homework.
 The dependent clause is “if you finish your homework.”
 The independent clause is “you can have dessert.”

Types of Conditional Sentences


There are few different kinds of conditional sentences in English. Here is a brief
outline of each kind.

Zero Conditional

What is a zero conditional


sentence? A zero conditional sentence is a sentence that expresses a fact or
simple implication.
The dependent clause of the zero conditional begins with “if” or “when.” The
independent clause of the zero conditional begins with the simple present verb
tense or the imperative verb tense.
Zero conditional statements express conditions that are always true and the
conclusions of which can be drawn from their premises.

Examples of zero conditional:


 If it rains, things get wet.
 If you stare at the sun, your eyes damage.
 If you touch a flame, you burn yourself.

First Conditional

What is a first conditional


sentence? A first conditional sentence is a sentence that expresses an idea that
might happen at some point in the future. It is something that is possible, but its
certainty is unknown because it depends on another event.
The dependent clause of the first conditional begins with “if” and uses the simple
present tense. The independent clause of the first conditional uses “will” plus the
base form of a verb.
Examples of first conditional:
 If it rains, I will not play outside.
 If I am out to lunch, Maria will answer calls.
 I will wrap his present if he leaves.
First conditional sentences can refer to either present of future time.

Second Conditional

What is a second
conditional sentence? A second conditional sentence is a sentence that can
express two ideas.
First, it might express things in the future that are unlikely to happen. Second, it
is used to express an idea that is not true because it is impossible.

The dependent clause of the second conditional begins with “if” and uses the
past simple tense. The independent clause of the second conditional uses
“would” plus the base form of a verb.
Examples of second conditional:
 If I knew the answer, I would tell you.
 If I were you, I would not leave tonight.
 If I were president, I would fix the system.
Second conditional sentences refer to the present time.

Third Conditional

What is a third conditional


sentence? A third conditional sentence expresses a past idea that did not occur.
The third conditional sentence expresses an imagined result of that past event
that did not occur. In other words, it is unreal.
The dependent clause of the third conditional begins with “if” and uses the past
perfect tense. The independent clause of the third conditional uses “would” have
plus the past participle of a verb.
Examples of third conditional:
 If I had listened, I would have not gotten lost.
 If he had gone to lunch, you would have answered his calls.
 I would have wrapped his present if he had left.
Third conditional sentences refer to the past.

Punctuating Conditional Sentences

Conditional sentences are


fairly easy to identify because they almost always begin with “if.” They might also
begin with “when,” “provided that,” “given that,” or “considering.”

Just like other sentence in English, a conditional sentence only requires a


comma after the dependent clause when the dependent clause is
placed before the independent clause.
Examples:
 If the baby wakes, I will be frustrated.
 If you go outside, you can see the storm clouds.
 When you finish your dinner, you will clean your plate.
This is similar to most English phrases.

For example,

 After Johnny hit the ball, he ran to first base.


If the dependent clause is after the independent clause, no comma is necessary.

Examples:
 I will be frustrated if the baby wakes.
 You can see the storm clouds if you go outside.
 You will clean your plate when you finish your dinner.
Again, this is similar to most English phrases.

For example,

 Johnny ran to first base after he hit the ball.


Summary: What Are Conditional Sentences?
Define conditional sentence: the definition of conditional sentence is a
sentence type that expresses a condition and the outcome of the condition.
In summary, a conditional sentence:

 usually begins with “if”


 includes a dependent and independent clause
 comes in different forms including zero, first, second, and third

go
1. If I to Leipzig, I'll visit the zoo.
Go*
went
had gone
hadn't rained
2. If it , we'd be in the garden.
Doesn’t rain
Didn’t rain*
Hadn’t rained
3. If you a lighter jacket, the car driver would have seen you
earlier.
Wear
Wore
Had worn*
4. We TV tonight if Peter hadn't bought the theatre tickets.
Will watch
Would watch
Would have watched*
5. She wouldn't have had two laptops if she one to her friend.
Does not lend
Did not lend
Had not lent*
6. If I was/were a millionaire, I in Beverly Hills.
Will live
Would live*
Would have lived
7. You would save energy if you the lights more often.
Switch off
Switched off*
Had switched off
8. If we had read the book, we the film.
will understand
would understand
would have understood*
9. My sister could score better on the test if the teacher the
grammar once more.
Explains
Explained*
Had explained
10. They on time if they hadn't missed the train.
Will arrive
Would arrive
Might have arrived*