Conditional Sentences / If-Clauses Type 0, 1, 2 and 3
Conditional Sentences are also known as Conditional Clauses or If Clauses. They are used to express that the action in the main clause (without if) can only take place if a certain condition (in the clause with if) is fulfilled. There are three types of Conditional Sentences.
Conditional Sentence Type 0
Conditional type zero is used to talk about general truths, scientific facts or things which always happen under certain conditions.
If + Simple Present, + Simple Present
Use: The zero conditional is used to talk about things which are always true, scientific facts, general truths:
- If you cross an international date line, the time changes.
- Phosphorus burns if you expose it to air.
- If I wake up early, I go jogging.
NOTE: you can use "when" instead of "if".
Conditional Sentence Type 1
Often called the "real" conditional because it is used for real or possible situations. These situations take place if a certain condition is met. It is possible and also very likely that the condition will be fulfilled.
If + Simple Present, + Simple Future
Use : Conditional Sentences Type 1 refer to the future. An action in the future will only happen if a certain condition is fulfilled by that time. We don't know for sure whether the condition actually will be fulfilled or not, but the conditions seems rather realistic – so we think it is likely to happen.
- · If I have enough time, I'll watch the football match.
- · If I find her address, I’ll send her an invitation.
- · I may have time to watch the match but I'm not sure about it.
Conditional Sentence Type 2
Often called the "unreal" conditional because it is used for unreal impossible or improbable situations. This conditional provides an imaginary result for a given situation. It is very unlikely that the condition will be fulfilled.
if + Simple Past, + would + base verb
Were / Was
In conditional type 2, we usually use in the if clause "were" instead of "was" even if the pronoun is I, he, sheor it. "were" here is a subjunctive form.
NOTE "was" is also a possible form.
- If I were a millionaire, I would buy a castle.
- If I found her address, I would send her an invitation.
Use : Conditional Sentences Type 2 refer to an action in the present that could happen if the present situation were different. I don't really expect the situation to change because it is very unlikely.
- · If I had a lot of money, I would travel around the world.
Conditional Sentence Type 3
It is impossible that the condition will be met because it refers to the past.
if + Past Perfect, + would + have + Past Participle
Use : Conditional Sentences Type 3 refer to situations in the past. They express hypothetical results to past given situations.
- · If he had been careful, he wouldn't have had that terrible accident.
- · Sometimes in the past, he was careless. He drove so fast. So he had a terrible accident
- · If I had found her address, I would have sent her an invitation.
Things to remember
1. The main clause can also be at the beginning of the sentence. In this case, don't use a comma.
- · "Phosphorus burns if you expose it to air."
- · " I will send her an invitation if I find her address."
- · " I would travel around the world if I had a million dollars."
- · "He wouldn't have had that terrible accident if he had been careful."
2. Main clause and/or if clause might be negative.
- · If I don’t see him this afternoon, I will phone him in the evening.
- · If he had been careful, he wouldn't have had an accident.
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