Conditionals the Traditional Way

Conditionals, or if sentences, talk about situations that can happen only IF something else happens first:

‘I will come to the party IF I am invited’

If I am invited, I will come to the party

If I am not invited, I will not come to the party

These sentences can talk about real situations – situations which may possibly happen in the future:

If it rains tomorrow…

If I see you tomorrow…

In traditional teaching of conditionals, real situations are split into two types:

General facts – ‘If you heat water to 100 degree centigrade, it boils’       These sentences are known as 0 conditional

Real future situations – ‘If it rains tomorrow I will stay inside’                 These sentences are known as 1st conditional

Conditionals  can also talk about fantasy situations – situations which have no chance of happening:

If I won the lottery…

If the sun didn’t come up tomorrow…

These fantasy, or hypothetical, or unreal situations are split into 3 types:

Unreal situations in the future – ‘If I forgot my umbrella I would get wet‘             These sentences are known as 2nd conditional

Unreal situations in the past – ‘If I had forgotten my umbrella I would have got wet’                  These sentences are known as 3rd conditional

Unreal situations in the past with their result in the present – ‘If I had forgotten my umbrella I would be wet now’                These sentences are known as mixed conditionals

To see how to form these sentences, click on the diagram below.  Then why not try one of our quizzes.  If you’re feeling brave, try one of our advanced worksheets.