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Old Friday, October 26, 2007
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Conditionals



There are several structures in English that are called conditionals.

"Condition" means "situation or circumstance". If a particular condition is true, then a particular result happens.
  • If y = 10 then 2y = 20
  • If y = 3 then 2y = 6

There are three basic conditionals that we use very often. There are some more conditionals that we do not use so often.

In this lesson, we will look at the three basic conditionals as well as the so-called zero conditional.




Structure of Conditional Sentences


The structure of most conditionals is very simple. There are two basic possibilities. Of course, we add many words and can use various tenses, but the basic structure is usually like this:


IF condition result

IF y = 10 2y = 20

or like this:


result IF condition

2y = 20 IF y = 10





First Conditional: real possibility


We are talking about the future. We are thinking about a particular condition or situation in the future, and the result of this condition. There is a real possibility that this condition will happen. For example, it is morning. You are at home. You plan to play tennis this afternoon. But there are some clouds in the sky. Imagine that it rains. What will you do?

IF condition result

present simple + WILL + base verb

If it rains I will stay at home.

Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. It is not raining yet. But the sky is cloudy and you think that it could rain. We use the present simple tense to talk about the possible future condition. We use WILL + base verb to talk about the possible future result. The important thing about the first conditional is that there is a real possibility that the condition will happen. Here are some more examples (do you remember the two basic structures: [IF condition result] and [result IF condition]?):


IF + condition (present simple) + result (WILL + base verb )

If I see Mary I will tell her.
If Tara is free tomorrow he will invite her.
If they do not pass their exam their teacher will be sad.
If it rains tomorrow will you stay at home?
If it rains tomorrow what will you do?



OR


result (WILL + base verb) + IF + condition (present simple )

I will tell Mary if I see her.
He will invite Tara if she is free tomorrow.
Their teacher will be sad if they do not pass their exam.
Will you stay at home if it rains tomorrow?
What will you do if it rains tomorrow?






Second Conditional: unreal possibility or dream

The second conditional is like the first conditional. We are still thinking about the future. We are thinking about a particular condition in the future, and the result of this condition. But there is not a real possibility that this condition will happen. For example, you do not have a lottery ticket. Is it possible to win? No! No lottery ticket, no win! But maybe you will buy a lottery ticket in the future. So you can think about winning in the future, like a dream. It's not very real, but it's still possible.



IF + condition (past simple) + result (WOULD + base verb)



If I won the lottery I would buy a car.


OR


result (WOULD + base verb) + IF + condition (past simple)


I would be happy if I married Mary.




Notice that we are thinking about a future condition. We use the past simple tense to talk about the future condition. We use WOULD + base verb to talk about the future result. The important thing about the second conditional is that there is an unreal possibility that the condition will happen.

Here are some more examples:

If I married Mary I would be happy.
If Ram became rich she would marry him.
If it snowed next July would you be surprised?
If it snowed next July what would you do?


OR



She would marry Ram if he became rich.
Would you be surprised if it snowed next July?
What would you do if it snowed next July?

Quote:
Sometimes, we use should, could or might instead of would, for example: If I won a million dollars, I could stop working.







to be continued
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