Conditionals help us talk about things we know and things that are hypothetical. These sentences usually contain the condition or the ‘if clause’ and the consequence of the condition.
If I study, I will pass
There are four main types of conditionals. However, today we will also be taking a look at some other type of conditional structures. These advanced structures will help you create more conditional sentences.
Zero Conditionals tend to express general truths or facts.
If you play with fire, you get burnt
It’s a fact!
Both clauses in the Zero Conditional use the present simple tense. You can also see that in these sentences ‘If’ or ‘when’ can be used. They are interchangeable. The consequence will always be the same and that os why ‘if’ and ‘when’ fit well in these conditional sentences.
First Conditional sentences usually tend to show us that the consequence is very likely, but probably not 100% sure to happen.
If you rest, you will feel better
In these sentences we use the Present simple in the if clause and the Future in the main clause. This is precisely how we show what the possible outcome might be.
We use Second Conditional sentences when we want to talk about totally unrealistic consequences. It’s when we want to show that something isn’t real in the present, therefore it’s not likely to happen in the future.
If I were taller, I would play in the NBA
The fact is that since you are not tall enough, you’re not going to play in the NBA.
Second Conditional sentences use the Past Simple tense in the if clause and a modal auxiliary (could, might, may, would, should, etc.) in the main clause.
Basically, the second conditional is different from the first because of the level of unlikelihood.
We use the third conditional when we talk about situations that didn’t happen in the past. In these sentences we tend to talk about regrets.
If the Titanic had had more lifeboats, not so many people would have died.
In the third conditional we use the Past Perfect Tense in the if clause and the Modal Auxiliary verbs in the past (Conditional perfect tenses).
It helps us talk about situations in the past that didn’t happen and what the possible outcome might have been.
You can download our pdf guide on Conditionals with all of this and much more.
Other Conditional structures
Conditionals don’t only work with IF. These are some other ways we can make conditionals work:
INVERSIONS You can check more about inversions here
Inversions in conditinal sentences usually happen in the third conditional.
If I had read the book, I could have spoken about it in class.
Had I read the book, I could have spoken about it in class
AS LONG AS
I’ll go, as long as you wear a suit
You shouldn’t skip your exam, otherwise you’ll be punished
They might agree to the contract, provided that we grant them full access
SHOULD YOU (FORMAL)
Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us
We could get the new car, supposing that we save enough money
We will get the insurance as well, unless you tell us it’s a bad idea
Download our Conditionals worksheet here and practise all of the conditionals