Conditional forms

Conditional 0

Situations that are always true if something happens.

NOTE

This use is similiar to, and can usually be replaced by, a time clause using ‘when’ (example: When I am late, my father takes me to school.)

If I am late, my father takes me to school.
She doesn’t worry if Jack stays out after school.

Conditional 0 is formed by the use of the present simple in the if clause followed by a comma the present simple in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

If he comes to town, we have dinner.
OR
We have dinner if he comes to town.

Conditional 1

Often called the “real” conditional because it is used for real – or possible – situations. These situations take place if a certain condition is met.

NOTE

In the conditional 1 we often use unless which means ‘if… not’. In other words,

‘…unless he hurries up.’ could also be written, ‘…if he doesn’t hurry up.’.

If it rains, we will stay at home.
He will arrive late unless he hurries up.
Peter will buy a new car, if he gets his raise.
Conditional 1 is formed by the use of the present simple in the if clause followed by a comma will verb (base form) in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

If he finishes on time, we will go to the movies.
OR
We will go to the movies if he finishes on time.

Conditional 2

Often called the “unreal” conditional because it is used for unreal – impossible or improbable – situations. This conditional provides an imaginary result for a given situation.

NOTE

The verb ‘to be’, when used in the 2nd conditional, is always conjugated as ‘were’.

If he studied more, he would pass the exam.
I would lower taxes if I were the President.
They would buy a new house if they had more money.
Conditional 2 is formed by the use of the past simple in the if clause followed by a comma would verb (base form) in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

If they had more money, they would buy a new house.
OR
They would buy a new house if they had more money.

Conditional 3

Often referred to as the “past” conditional because it concerns only past situations with hypothetical results. Used to express a hypothetical result to a past given situation.

If he had known that, he would have decided differently.
Jane would have found a new job if she had stayed in Boston.
Conditional 3 is formed by the use of the past perfect in the if clause followed by a comma would have past participle in the result clause. You can also put the result clause first without using a comma between the clauses.

If Alice had won the competition, life would have changed OR Life would have changed if Alice had won the competition.



Conditional forms