Conditional sentences (or clauses) help describe what might happen or what we hope will happen. There are five main ways of constructing conditionals sentences in English. In general, they all made up of an if clause and a main clause.

Why should we learn about conditionals? Because they’re super important in English for expressing feelings, giving advice, or just stating facts.

🔍 Now you may ask: What is an if clause? Or a main clause? More specifically, what is a clause?

✅ A clause is basically a sentence that contains a subject and a verb, for example:

  • If Anna wakes up, she will sing.

The if clause is “If Anna wakes up”.
The main clause is “she will sing”.

So, as we’ve seen, English uses different ways to create conditional sentences. Let’s take a closer look at these methods with some helpful examples in the following table.

TypeFunctionExamples
Conditional type zeroto express factsIf you sleep, you dream.
Conditional type oneto express a result of a future eventIf he is late, I will be angry.
Conditional type twoto talk about things in the future that are probably not going to be trueShe would travel all over the world if she were rich.
Conditional type threeto describe a situation that didn’t happen, and to imagine the result of this situationIf we had taken a taxi, we wouldn’t have missed the plane
Mixed conditionalsrefer to an unreal past condition and its probable result in the present.If I had worked harder at school, I would have a better job now.

Examples of Conditional sentences:

Zero:

  • When you heat ice, it melts.
  • When you don’t give plants enough water, they die.
  • If you eat too much, you get fat.
  • If you touch a fire, it burns you.
  • People smile back if you smile at them.
  • You get water if you mix hydrogen and oxygen.
  • If snakes feel scared, they bite.
  • If babies are hungry, they cry.

One:

  • If it rains, I won’t go to the park.
  • If I study today, I’ll go to the party tonight.
  • If I have enough money, I’ll buy some new shoes.
  • If the train is delayed, she will be late.
  • She’ll miss the bus if she doesn’t leave soon.
  • If I see her, I’ll tell her.

Two:

  • If I won the lottery, I would buy a sports car.
  • If I met your father, I would say hello.
  • She would travel all over the world if she were rich.
  • She would pass the exam if she ever studied.

Three:

  • If she had studied, she would have passed the exam.
  • If I hadn’t eaten so much, I wouldn’t have felt sick.
  • If we had taken a taxi, we wouldn’t have missed the plane.
  • If she had gone to bed earlier, she wouldn’t have been tired.
  • She would have become a teacher if she had gone to university.
  • He would have been on time for the interview if he had left the house at nine.

Mixed:

  • If I had worked harder at school, I would have a better job now.
  • I would have a better job now if I had worked harder at school.
  • If we had looked at the map we wouldn’t be lost.
  • We wouldn’t be lost if we had looked at the map.
  • If you had caught that plane, you would be dead now.
  • You would be dead now if you had caught that plane.
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