Conditional tense in English is a very critical part of grammar that one needs to know if you want to learn English and become good at it.Non-natives who learn English say that the language is a bit easy than learning other languages as most of the rules and simple and easy to follow. This is absolutely correct and I also believe that it is easy to learn English as long as you are dedicated to it.
When you speculate about what could happen or what might have happened or what we desire to happen in the future then conditional tense is used in English. Conditional sentences describe both real and unreal scenarios. We use the “if clauses” when using Conditional tense in English. In some cases “when” can substitute the “if word”.
There are four types of conditionals; 0, 1st 2nd, and 3rd conditionals tenses. We are going to look into each one of the conditional tenses with a few examples and know how we can use them in our journey to learn English.
Let’s get into it.
THE FIRST CONDITIONAL
This conditional sentence expresses a future scenario that might happen.
If+ present tense / will/ may/ might/ could/ should + infinitive
Example of such a first conditional sentence is:
- If I get paid today , I will buy some groceries
- We could travel if we save some money
- If she knows what I am doing she might not be happy
- She should get a cat if she is lonely
- He should buy some food if he is hungry
The first conditional tense refers to specific truths. This means it is possible and also likely that the condition shall come to pass.
Remember that each of the above modal verbs (will/ may/ might/ could/ should) can change the meaning of the sentence.
- “May” implies a degree of uncertainty of something in case the condition is fulfilled.
- “Could” indicates that the result is possible.
- “Might” implies a degree of uncertainty of something in case the condition is fulfilled.
- “Can” indicates that the result is possible.
- “Will” implies near-certainty about something in case the condition is fulfilled
- “Should” indicates opinion (just like in the example above)
THE SECOND CONDITIONAL TENSE IN ENGLISH
These conditional sentences can refer to either future hypothetical that is unlikely to be true or present conditions that are untrue or impossible.
If + past subjective (OR simple past) /would/might/could + infinitive simple or continuous
- If I were a bit rich, I would buy a house
- If Becky was to try harder, she would get better grades
- If I met the president, I would ask him to help me.
- He could get the tender if he knew the right individuals.
The second conditional sentences refer to events that are unlikely to happen. (Current impossibilities)
THE THIRD CONDITIONAL
The third conditional is about an unreal situation in the past.
If +past perfect (subjunctive)/would/could /might + perfect infinitive
- If I heard known you would get angry I would have remained silent.
- If you had watched the movie, we could have talked about the ending
- I might have seen you should I have passed at the park
The third and the second conditional in some circumstances can also refer to any impossible events.
The main difference is that the second conditional refers to impossibilities in the present while the third conditional refers to the impossibilities of the past.
THE ZERO CONDITIONAL
We use this conditional tense to make general statements that concern the real world. It often used to talk about to general truths. When talking about these sentences, we are referring to the present or something that usually happens and the situation is usually real and possible. They express something that is a universal truth.
If (or when) + present tense/present tense
If (or when) + past tense/past tense
- When I finished my homework, my instructor was happy
- My brother comforted me when I failed my exams
- If you melt ice, it becomes a liquid.
- If one mixes a red and yellow color, then they will get a green color.
It is important to note that the order of clauses is not fixed or conditional. If one decides to move the “IF’ or “when” to the middle of the sentence, then the comma must be removed from the sentence. This also applies to the other three conditional tenses.
LET’S LEARN THE CONDITIONAL TENSE IN ENGLISH
You can learn English grammar with imaginary sentences like conditional sentences. Use conditional sentences for situations that might happen in the future or situations that might never happen. Some sentences on your own on each conditional tense to see if you’ve understood the topic.
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