On last Tuesday in our A.1 English class at Escuela Oficial de Idiomas we were given a couple of paper sheets with a theoretical introduction to conditionals and exercises to grab and learn the main concepts.
Real/likely situations: first conditional
* With If
- If you fall, I won’t be able to catch you!
This means that there is a real possibility this will happen.
- Going to can be used instead of will.
- If it rains, we‘re going to get wet.
The modal verb can is also common in first conditional sentences.
- If the cases are too heavy, Ican help you carry them.
* Unless, provided, as long as
Unless means If … not.
- Unless you leave at once, I‘ll callthe police.
- If you don’t leave at once, I‘ll call the police.
Provided and as long as can also introduce a condition.
- Provided you leave now, you’ll catch the train.
* With the imperative
It is common to use the imperative instead of if.
- Get me some cigarettes, and I‘ll pay you later.
* With should.
We can use should instead of if in a conditional sentence. It means if by any chance … and makes the action less likely.
- Should you see John, can you give him a message?
Unreal/imaginary situations: second conditional
* With if
- If you fell, you would hurt yourself.
This means that there is a small possibility that this will happen. The situation and its result are imagined.
- If you became a millionaire, you might be unhappy.
Were is often used instead of was in formal language. Note that were is not stressed in speech.
- If I were taller, I‘d join the basketball team.
- If I were you, I‘d leave now. (I and you are stressed in speech)
* Were to
Were to is another way of expressing a second conditional sentence.
- If they were to offer me the job, I‘d turn it down.
Unreal/imaginary past situations: third conditional
* With if
- If John has studied more, you would have got better marks.
This means that John didn’t study more. A past situation, different to the one that really happened, is imagined.
The modal verbs might and could are common in this kind of sentence.
- If you had tried harder, you might have succeeded.
* Mixed conditions
For past events which have a result continuing in the present, it is possible to use the form of a third conditional in the if-clause, and the form of a second conditional in the result clause.
- If you had saved some money, you wouldn’t be so hard up.
Other if sentences
If can mean when in the sense of whenever.
- If/When/Ehenever it rains, we play football indoors instead.
In this type of sentence we use the present simple in both the if-clause and the result clause.
If can also mean if it is true that.
- If (it is true that) you have a job like that. you are very lucky.
- If (it is true that) nothing happened, you were lucky.
If + past simple can be used for past events with a real possibility, or that we know are true. This type of sentence does not have any special grammar rules.
- If you missed the TV programme last night, you can borrow my recording.
- If the police arrested him, they must suspect him.
I’ll do the exercises later on :)