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Suhail Ahmed Solangi 1
Conditional tense is a way of showing actions that happen, will happen or might have
happened. There are different ways to show conditional tense and what you are trying
to say. In this lesson, you will look at the four conditional tenses.
Conditionals and Time
Imagine you had a machine that could go back and forth in time. It would be awesome!
If you forgot to do homework, you could go back in time and still meet friends for
dinner. If you wanted to see what would happen if you took a new job, you could go
forward in time and see your future.
In a way, conditionals are like a time machine. You can tell things that happen, will
happen, might have happened, or would have happened if you do, will do or did
When you see the word if, this is usually a conditional sentence. There are four types of
conditionals but many ways to say and write conditionals. Conditional clauses can also
be made in different word order but still mean the same thing:
If he eats pizza, he is happy.
He is happy if he eats pizza.
If you heat water, it boils.
When the sun goes down, it gets dark.
It lights up if you push that button.
Different Uses of Conditional Tense
First off, we have the zero conditional, which presents in the form: if + present verb,
present verb. It's used in the present. Zero conditional shows a result that happens if a
repeated condition happens. Let's look at some examples:
If+ Present Simple, Present Simple
If she exercises every day, she stays healthy.
She stays healthy if she exercises every day.
If they laugh at my jokes, I know I am funny.
I know I am funny if they laugh at my jokes.
Suhail Ahmed Solangi 2
Here's also the first conditional (real conditional), which takes the form: if + present
verb, will + base form of verb (no 'to' or different ending for he or she). It's a
combination of the present and the future. This conditional shows a possible result that
will probably happen if another condition happens. Here are some examples. Again,
word order doesn't matter.
If+ Present Simple, will
If she studies for the test, she will get a good grade.
She will get a good grade if she studies for the test.
If we take the train, we will be on time.
We will be on time if we take the train.
I’ll go shopping on the way home if I have time.
If it’s a nice day tomorrow, we’ll go to the beach.
If Arsenal win, they’ll be top of the league.
The second conditional is about imaginary results of impossible or unlikely conditions
in the present or future.
If+ Past Simple, would /Could/might
• If I won a million pounds, I'd still carry on working.
• Will l win the lottery? It's possible but I think it's very unlikely.
• If I had that much money, I'd give up my job immediately.
• Do I have that much money? No, I don't.
If I won a lot of money, I’d buy a big house in the country.
Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?
If you didn’t smoke so much, you’d feel a lot better.
Suhail Ahmed Solangi 3
The if clause contains the past simple. There is, however, one exception: if the verb to be
is in the if clause, use were and not was in the first and second person singular. The
main clause contains would (or other modals such as could or might) followed by the
infinitive without to.
If I were you, I'd take a holiday!
If you loaned me some money, I could buy a new car.
If I had the time, I could finish the gardening. But I'm too busy with work.
We use this conditional to talk about an imaginary result of something in the past.
If+ Past perfect, would/could/might+ have + past participle
If I hadn't missed the bus, I wouldn't have met the love of my life.
Did I miss the bus? Yes I did, so the result is purely imagined.
The if clause has a past perfect structure and the result clause has would (or other
modals such as could or might) + have + past participle.
If I had studied harder at college, I could have gone to a better university.
If we had never met, my life would have been a lot less complicated.
If hadn't taken the job, I might have regretted it.
Suhail Ahmed Solangi 4
Wishes & Regrets
When we make a wish or a regret about a present situation, we use a second
I wish I was thinner. or I wish I were thinner.
As with the second conditional, though we are talking about a future wish, we use the
We can also use the phrase "if only" to express the same idea:
If only I had more money!
If only she had a better job, she would be happier.
As you can see in the first sentence, it's not necessary to put the second half of the
When we make a regret about a past situation, we use a third conditional structure:
I wish I had studied harder at school when I was a teenager.
If only we had seen that special offer yesterday.
Charles Kinney, Jr.