Do you know when to use English conditional sentences? Let's go over the different uses of all four conditional sentences (with examples)! Including the zero first, second, third conditionals!
Have you taken the mmmEnglish Grammar Challenge? Check it out here: https://bit.ly/GrammarChallenge
In this lesson, I'll go over the basic structure AND meaning of all four CONDITIONAL sentences in English!
CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.
More English lessons recommended for you:
Hey there I'm Emma from mmmEnglish! I've got a grammar lesson for you today and I'm really excited to be sharing it with you because it's one that you've been asking for for quite a while. We're talking about conditional sentences in English. I'm going to go over the basic structure and the meaning of all conditional sentences in English. If you've studied these sentences before, then this video is going to be awesome revision for you but if you're not so familiar with conditional sentences,then it's gonna be an excellent introduction. So let's get started!
Sometimes it feels like English grammar can be pretty loose like, yeah there's some rules but sometimes they don't apply. Sometimes there's exceptions. I get it! I've got to teach it! But there are some grammatical structures in English that follow really clear rules and the structure of conditional sentences is nice and clear which makes it easier for you to feel confident about the way that you express your thoughts and your ideas when you speak.
We use conditional sentences to explain what actually happens, what could happen so a possible and likely outcome in the future. We talk about what we wish would happen so imagining a different outcome for our present situation. And what might have happened so thinking about a different outcome that happened in the past.
Now there are four types of conditional sentences. They're all really similar but they're not the same.
If I get sick, I go to the doctor.
If I get sick, I will go to the doctor.
If I got sick, I would go to the doctor.
If I had been sick, I would have gone to the doctor.
So let's talk about what is the same or what's similar about all of these sentences. They all use two clauses. There are two parts to each sentence separated by a comma and they all use the conjunction ‘if'.
Just a little reminder that we use conjunctions in English to join two ideas together in one sentence.
I ate an apple and two desserts.
I like it but I don't want it.
I'll do it if you drive me to the cinema later.
So all of these words are really, really tiny grammatical words but they have an important function. They're connecting two ideas together and conditional sentences all use ‘if' to join two ideas together. In all conditional sentences we have an ‘if' clause and a result clause.
So the ‘if' clause is the event or the situation that must happen in order for the other thing to happen. So the result can only happen if the ‘if' clause occurs and that is why it's called a conditional sentence. A condition is something that you have to do or a situation that needs to exist in order for something else to happen.
You can't get this without squeezing this. There is a really important relationship between these two things. One relies on the other. Now these sentences, they're all quite similar but there are some really clear differences as well. I mean, check out the verbs. This is where the main difference between these conditional sentences are. It's all in the verbs, you can see it, right? And the meaning is different too. We use each type of sentence in a different situation.
If you haven't already noticed, we have the zero conditional, the first conditional, the second conditional, the third conditional. And I'm going to go through each type of conditional sentence now one by one. So let's get started with the zero conditional and I recommend that you take some notes as we go through all of these examples.
The zero conditional is called the factual conditional.
If I get sick, I go to the doctor.
And it's one of the easiest to remember because both clauses are in the present simple tense. We have the ‘if' clause with the present simple and then the present simple in the main result clause as well. So if this happens, then this is what happens. We use the zero conditional to talk about habits, facts and truths.
You can't argue about these things, right? With these things, we're not talking about possibility. It's fact.
If you put ice in your drink, it melts.
See? It's really simple. So I want you to practise by finishing this sentence for me. I want you to write your sentence in the comments so that I can check it.
If I eat…
Remember, present simple, present simple.
Then we have the first conditional which we used to talk about possible and likely future outcomes.
If I get sick, I will go to the doctor.
So it's possible that in the future I'll get sick and if that occurs, I will probably go to the doctor. So we use ‘if' with the present simple and ‘will' with our verb infinitive.
If it's hot tomorrow, I'll go for a swim at the beach.
And if it is hot, Now am I sure that it will be hot tomorrow? No but it is summertime here in Australia. it's highly likely that I will go for a swim.
If you join the Lingoda Language Sprint, you'll get lots of English speaking practice. So now it's your turn to finish a sentence.
If we leave now…
Complete that sentence in the comments below and feel free to also pause the video at any and write your own conditional sentences down theretime for me to check.
Now we have the second conditional and we use it when we want to imagine that the present situation is different.
So if I got sick, I would go to the doctor.
This is a hypothetical situation, right? It's not real. Do I look sick? I'm not sick. I'm imagining that the present situation is different for some reason. I'm imagining that I'm sick. Now if that were true, I would go to the doctor. Now am I really going to the doctor? No, because I'm not actually sick. It's an unreal situation.
But to express this in English, we use ‘if' with the past simple and then ‘would' and the verb infinitive in the result clause. So we use the modal verb ‘would' to show that we're imagining the result.
Don't forget that in English, all verbs that follow modal verbs are in the infinitive form.
If I had more money, I would buy a boat.
Now it's really common and natural to use contractions in conditional sentences. I would definitely say when I'm speaking naturally: If I had more money, I'd buy a boat.
I'd, he'd, you'd, they'd.
This pronunciation is much more common in spoken English.
Okay so now it's your turn to finish this sentence.
If I finished work earlier…
Finish that sentence in the comments.
There are lots of different uses for the second conditional. We use it to give advice, to give reasons why we can't do something and generally just imagine that life is different. So I'm definitely gonna have to go through all of those different uses in detail in another video very soon.
And the third conditional is the past unreal conditional.
If I had been sick, I would have gone to the doctor.
We use this structure to imagine a different past, different to the one that actually happened, right? We use ‘if' with the past perfect and ‘would have' with the past participle. Just to be clear, the ‘if' clause did not actually happen but I'm imagining the result if the past was different. So in this situation, was I really sick? I'm not talking about what actually happened, I'm talking about what could have happened in the past but didn't and what I would have done if that had happened.
Can you think of a time when this grammar structure would actually be useful? When you regret something in the past, something that happened in the past and you wished that that result was different.
If we had looked at the weather report, we would have stayed home!
If I had known you were visiting, I would have made time to see you.
Okay it's your turn now.
If I had…
Remember the structure. Let's do it. Pause the video if you need to so that you can write your sentence in the comments below. So that was an overview of conditional sentences in English. Now with all of this in mind, it is possible to use mixed conditional sentences too but I think that's a lesson for another day.
This lesson was a summary or an overview of the different types of conditional sentences so if you want me to explain any of them in more detail, to give you lots of different examples and to share some practice activities with you then let me know. Whichever conditional sentence has the most requests will be the one that I make first so make sure you put in your request down in the comments below. I'll make sure that I link to that lesson right here once it's finished but for now, check out either of these two lessons and make sure you're subscribed so you know when the next lesson's coming. I'll see you soon!
mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!
3. If I had looked at the weather report,I would have taken with me my umbrella.
0. If I eat 5 chocolates on my own, I get stomach ache.
1. If we leave now, we'd drive with rain.
2. If I had seen you again, I would have showed how I love you.
Emma thanks for this lesson! Contitionals usually confuse me.
You are the best!
0. If I eat this plate now I cannot get to make sport after
1. If we leave now we would arrive home without traffic
2. If I finished work earlier I would play more golf each week
3. If I had been rich I would have buy a beautiful house
Nice work Roland! A few corrections:
1 – If I eat this plate now, I won't make it to sports after
2 – If we leave now, we will avoid traffic
3 – If I had been rich, I would have bought a beautiful house
1- If i eat, i'm fine
2- If we leave now, she will feel sad
3- If i finished work earlier, i would watch my best movies
4- If i had opened that door, the fire would have spread in the house
Can i have more exercises on the third conditional ?
If I eat apples I get sick.
If we leave now,we'll arrive for lunch.
If I finished work earlier, I could go shopping.
If I had finished work earlier, I would have had more time to go shopping.
Sorry. This iscthe second.
2.If I finished work earlier,I'd have more free time for me and my family.
If I eat too much,I fill bad.
If we leave now, we will take the train.
If I finished work earlier, I would go to the beach.
If I had been rich , I would have bought a new house.
Great examples, Flavia! Just one spelling mistake – feel bad, not fill bad 🙂
“If it's sunny, that's the day prepared (by heavens) especially for you.”
“If it's rainy, I will spend the whole day watching your videos.”
“I would spend much more time learning if I had more time.”
“Had I met you earlier I would have made much progress in English.”
All the statements are really true!
Take care. Bye!
Hi Emma. If it’s autumn, I will carry a sweater with me. But, if it were windy I would also wear a jacket. I guess that if I had grown up in the north or south hemispheres, I would’ve been more accustomed to autumn or winter, but because I grow up in a tropical weather I cannot tolerate low temperatures. If it’s cero degree, the water gets frozen, isn’t? Well, when it is lower than 20, I always get be cold.
if i had known your channel some years ago, i would have learned English
0) If I eat a lot of sweets, I gain weight.
1) If we leave now, we'll get home in time for dinner.
2) If I finished work earlier, I would go to the cinema.
3) If I had studied more English in the past, I would have been more fluent now.
Nice work, Donato!
If I eat an apple every morning, it’s good for my health.
If we leave now, we will be at home in the evening.
If I finished work earlier, I would be less tired.
If I had known it, I would have started earlier.
Hi Emma. Thank you so much for this lesson.
But sometimes when I use conditional I confuse between the “second” and the “third” conditional. I kind of get them mixed up. For example, “If I got sick, I'd have gone to the doctor”.
This is wrong grammatically, right?
It'll be great if you can discuss these two in more detail soon in another lesson.
Thank you so much.. 🙂
That's right, it is not correct so you do need to be careful!
If I eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit, I am healthy.
If we leave now, we will catch a train.
If I finished work earlier, I would bake the cheesecake with raisins for my family.
If I had taken my umbrella, I wouldn’t have got wet.
If I had bought an antivirus software, my computer wouldn’t have caught the virus.
If I eat too much, I put on weigh. If I leave now, I'll be on time for my appointment. If I finished work earlier, I would go to the cinema. If I learned my Spanish lesson, I would have got a good grade.
Great work Marie! Some corrections:
If I eat too much, I put on weight.
If I studied/practised Spanish, I would have got a good grade.
0)If i eat a lot, i want sleep.
1)If we leave now,we will arrive on time.
2)If I finished work earlier , i would stop by lunch at restaurant.
3)If I had known that this is bad, I would not have do this is.
0 – If I eat a lot, I want to sleep
2 – If I finished work earlier, I would stop by and have lunch at a restaurant
3 – If I had known that it was this bad, I would not have done it
Thank you very much for your lessons.
It is very help me to learn English .Please send me continuation of the “Conditional Sentences “.
1/. if I eat, I feel happy
2/. If we leave now, we'll arrived too soon
3/. If I finished work earlier, was because I work
4/. If I had the knowledge of this act, I was leave
from this enterprise
I'm follower of yours lessons and feel
my progress step by step improving.
This is helpful to me. Never before I was to school of English. I'm self taught.
Thank you for your help.
I am watching this video with subtitles and I do not have the option to change this. I am in Brasil, is this why? I will have to go back home (Portugal) to watch it as usual.) Thank you for reading. Rui
If I had seen your English Grammar Challenge a bit earlier, I would certainly have join it in time!
Are you going to repeat it soon?
Thank you very much my teacher.
If I hadn't changed the price in my ad, I'd haven't solved the problem so fast.
if I eat butterflies I vomit.
if we leave now we will arrive early.
if I fished work earlier I would go home.
if I had talked to him I would have made him stayed home.
0) If I eat an apple everyday,I keep afar the doctor.
1) If we leave now,we will come airport punctually.
2) If I finished work earlier,I would go to the beach.
3) If I had been Australia, I would have met my teacher,Emma.
0) If go home, I watch a football game.
1)If I get paid this month, I will invite you for a dinner.
2)If we listened to the teacher , we would pass the test.
3)If they had played well, they would have won the game.
if i eat it digest easily
Zero Conditional : If I eat lollies/sweets/candies I feel good.
First Conditional : If we leave now, we will reach on time.
Second Conditional: If I finished work earlier,I would help you.
Third Conditional : If I had got selected in bank, everyone would have praised me.
thank you so much
If we leave now, we will reach there on time. ✔
If I had got selected for the bank, everyone would have praised me. ✔
Hi Emma, I love your video, but I have 1 question:
Why do you say If I had been sick, I … instead of
If I had got/gotten sick, I … in the example?
Thanks a lot !
If I eat too much, I gain more weight.
If we leave now we will go to the beach.
If I finished work earlier, I would go to the book store.
If i had known you before, i would appreciate friendship more
0. – If I eat poison, I get sick.
1. – If we leave now, we won’t get back.
2.- If I finished work earlier, I wouldn’t have to make it now.
3.- If I had done the homework earlier, I would have time to learn.
When are you going to post more conditional lessons
Your are the best teacher I have ever seen.
God Bless You
I have learnt a lot with you in a matter of days, if I would've known you before I'd stick with you long time ago.
Thank you you are the best.