Conditionals: How Can I Understand & Use Them? (2023)

As difficult as getting to know your conditionals can be, and we know it can, it’s nowhere near as impossible as some people would believe it is. It does get a bit trickier when you introduce mixed conditionals into the, well, mix, but it still remains rather manageable.

And it’s mostly down to individuals. Some people find differentiating between Present Perfect and Past Simple a lot harder, while some struggle with learning how to describe the future. However, finding a good place to learn English in California is the first step toward mastering conditionals. Until then, read our detailed guide to gain a deeper insight into their use.

(Video) English Conditional Sentences (with examples!)

Contact us online and get a quote today or call us via WhatsApp!

Get a QuoteWhatsApp: +1 619 519 583

Why do we use conditionals?

We use conditionals to express a certain “condition”, and the result of that condition. That’s the basis of it. Then, depending on the type of conditional we choose to use, we can express a great many things, be it about the future or the past.

In order to understand why we use conditionals better, you need to be familiar with the basic structure of every conditional sentence. So, we have an if-clause, which is used to describe the “condition”, and we have the main clause, which states what will happen if the condition is met.

(Video) ALL CONDITIONALS | 0,1,2,3 and MIXED CONDITIONALS - English Grammar | if....

Not exactly something you’d need pundits from the California Department of Education to explain, but, on the other hand, not entirely easy either. But, that’s about it - we use conditionals to describe a result of a certain action.

How many conditionals are there?

There are four main types of conditional sentences, unimaginatively named the Zero Conditional, First Conditional, Second Conditional, and Third Conditional. Now, let’s elaborate a bit further.

1. Zero Conditional - We use the Zero Conditional to express something which will always happen if a certain condition is met, i.e. general truths. When it comes to the Zero Conditional, you use Present Simple Tense in both the if-clause and the main clause.

  • If you heat water, it boils.
  • If you go to bed late, you wake up tired in the morning.
  • If you mix red and green, you get brown.

2. First Conditional - The point of the First Conditional is to express an outcome that is likely to happen in the future, not guaranteed mind you, if a certain condition is fulfilled. You use Present Simple Tense in the if-clause and the Future Simple Tense in the main clause.

(Video) Learn English Grammar: The 4 Conditionals

  • If it snows, I will go sledding.
  • If I see my friend, I’ll have coffee with him.
  • If I save some money, I will buy a new phone.

3. Second Conditional - The Second Conditional is where things start to get a bit tricky. Sometimes, we use the Second Conditional to express entirely unlikely scenarios where the condition will probably never be met, and, because of that, neither will the result occur.

At other times, we use it to express something that can happen. You use Past Simple Tense in the if-clause, and one of the modal verbs (e.g. should, could, might, would, etc.) plus the main verb in the main clause.

  • If I had more money, I would get a Ferrari.
  • If Tom spent more time studying, he could have better grades.
  • If I met Tom Cruise, I would ask him for an autograph.

4. Third Conditional - Finally, there’s the Third Conditional. We use it to explain how the current circumstances might have been different if something else had happened some time ago. So, hypothetical situations. You use Past Perfect Tense in the if-clause, and the construction modal verb (e.g. could, should, would, etc.) + have + past participle of the main verb.

  • If you had paid more attention while driving, you would not have broken your bumper.
  • If she had studied harder, she would have gotten a better grade.
  • If Monica had seen me, she certainly would have said “hi”.

And that’s it, at least for now. You can also mix conditionals, mainly the Second Conditional and the Third Conditional, but we’re not going to get into that now. These four types of Conditional sentences are plenty for you to find your way around any speaking situation.

(Video) Using Conditional Sentences in English - 5 Levels of Difficulty

How do you understand conditionals?

We’re sorry to tell you, but in order to understand conditionals, to really really understand how to use them, you need to learn them and learn them well. You need to learn how to form them, which tenses to use for which conditional and then try using them as much as you can.

However, although it does sound difficult and even though it does require a lot of work, time, and dedication, there are some small tips we can give you in order to master conditionals more quickly.

  1. Watch out for “ifs” and “woulds” - Try to pay attention to every if you hear or read as it probably has something to do with conditionals. Also, would is also very frequently used in conditional sentences, so try to catch them as well. This will help you learn conditionals more quickly.
  2. Divide sentences - When you’re just starting with conditionals, it’s helpful to always break sentences into two distinct parts - the if-clause and the main clause, and learn which tense goes where for every conditional.
  3. Try to make it flexible - Finally, when you’ve already gained some insight into the conditionals, you can start making them sound more natural by mixing the order of the if-clauses and main clauses. Don’t always begin with the if, try to do it a bit differently every time.

“It’s still a bit difficult; where can I find a good English language school to help me along?”

If you’re struggling with conditionals, you’re neither the first nor the last. There have been many before you, and many are to come.

Here, at the College of English Language, we know just how difficult conditionals can be, which is why we’ve taken great time and effort to come up with the perfect way of explaining it to our students. So, if you’re looking for a place to learn English conditionals in California, just stop by our place near Balboa Park, and let’s see what we can do.

(Video) How to use ALL the Conditionals in English with examples | English Grammar Lesson


How do you understand about conditionals? ›

Conditionals describe the result of a certain condition. The if clause tells you the condition (If you study hard) and the main clause tells you the result (you will pass your exams). The order of the clauses does not change the meaning. If you study hard, you will pass your exams.

What is the 4 types of conditional examples? ›

There are four main kinds of conditionals:
  • The Zero Conditional: (if + present simple, ... present simple) ...
  • The First Conditional: (if + present simple, ... will + infinitive) ...
  • The Second Conditional: (if + past simple, ... would + infinitive) ...
  • The Third Conditional. (if + past perfect, ... would + have + past participle)

Why do we need to develop our understanding on conditionals? ›

Conditionals are extremely important in the English language because they help us express things that may happen in the present and future. Conditionals serve many purposes and take several different forms. They can be used to give advice, express regret and discuss facts, among other things.

How do you know when to use conditionals? ›

Conditionals are also known as if clauses, we use them to say that one thing depends on something else. They can be used to talk about something that always happens, might happen or might have happened as a result of another state, action or event.

How do you solve conditionals? ›

To solve a conditional equation, the ultimate goal is to isolate the variable on one side of the equal sign. To accomplish this, use inverse operations to get all variables on one side of the equal sign and all numbers on the other side. Inverse operations "undo" each other.

How do you solve conditional sentences? ›

How to Use First Conditional Sentences
  1. Explanation: Use the simple present tense in the if-clause.
  2. Explanation: Use the zero conditional (i.e., simple present + simple present) only when a certain result is guaranteed. ...
  3. Explanation: When applying the second conditional, use the simple past tense in the if-clause.

What are the 3 types of conditional sentences give examples? ›

5 Types of Conditional Sentences
Conditional sentence typeWhen to use
Type 1A possible situation and the result
Type 2A hypothetical condition and its possible result
Type 3An impossible past situation and its result in the past
Mixed ConditionalsAn impossible past situation and its result in the present
1 more row
May 6, 2020

What are the 5 conditional sentences? ›

We will see five conditionals: zero, first, second, third and mixed. A conditional sentence is formed by a main clause (the consequence), a conjunction (if), and a conditional clause (the condition).

What are examples of conditional words? ›

Sometimes we need to impose specific conditions or set limits on a situation. In these cases, conditional clauses can begin with phrases such as as long as, so long as, only if, on condition that, providing (that), provided (that).

Why are conditionals so difficult? ›

In sum, conditionals are the hardest to grasp because they encompass almost all English verb tenses and require learners to use any of them spontaneously at any given time and in any given context.

How do you teach conditionals? ›

Here are the steps to teaching the first conditional form:
  1. Introduce the construction of the first conditional: If + present simple + (then clause) future with "will."
  2. Point out that the two clauses can be switched: (then clause) future with "will" + if + present simple.
Oct 25, 2019

How do you use conditional examples? ›

Conditionals: if
  1. If the weather improves, we'll go for a walk. (It is possible or likely that the weather will improve.)
  2. If the weather improved, we could go for a walk. (It is not likely that the weather will improve.)
  3. If the weather had improved, we could have gone for a walk.
3 days ago

How do you identify a conditional type? ›

Conditional clauses can refer to the present, past or the future. The zero conditional usually refers to the present. The first conditional can refer to the present or the future. Second and third conditional clauses are mainly used to talk about unreal or hypothetical past situations.

What is the conditional answer? ›

What Are Conditional Answers? Conditional answers allow marketers to ask a series of questions that provide different answer options based on the answers given in the prior question or questions.

How do you write a conditional sentence with questions? ›

Conditionals Quiz
  1. What would you do if it ________ on your wedding day? ...
  2. If she comes, I _____ call you. ...
  3. If I eat peanut butter, I ________ sick. ...
  4. What will you do if you ________ the history exam? ...
  5. If they had not _____ the car, I would have driven you. ...
  6. If it snows, ________ still drive to the coast?

Can you give two examples of conditional sentences? ›

I will answer if he calls me. If I study really hard, I'll ace this test. If the weather is good, our crops will flourish. You will succeed in college if you're diligent in your studies.

How do you teach conditional sentences to Type 3? ›

The best way to help students understand what third conditional sentences are is by introducing this form to them using a natural conversation. To introduce the topic to your students, start asking them about significant events that happened in their lives.

What is conditional sentence and its types with examples? ›

Conditional sentence typeUsageIf clause verb tense
ZeroGeneral truthsSimple present
Type 1A possible condition and its probable resultSimple present
Type 2A hypothetical condition and its probable resultSimple past
Type 3An unreal past condition and its probable result in the pastPast perfect
1 more row

How do you write a conditional statement? ›

A conditional statement is a statement that can be written in the form “If P then Q,” where P and Q are sentences. For this conditional statement, P is called the hypothesis and Q is called the conclusion. Intuitively, “If P then Q” means that Q must be true whenever P is true.

What is an example of a simple conditional sentence? ›

If it had rained, you would have gotten wet. You would have gotten wet if it had rained. You would have passed your exam if you had worked harder. If you had worked harder, you would have passed your exam.

What is a conditional statement in a sentence? ›

Conditional sentences are statements of an “if-then” or “unless-then” situation (although “then” is not used), or a probability. These sentences present situations and their possible outcomes.

What is an example of conditional question? ›

Conditional questions allow you to skip certain questions, based on previous answers. For Example: Question 1: What's your favorite pet? If you choose Dog, ask what type of Dogs and don't ask for information regarding Cats or Lizards.

What are the common mistakes in conditional sentences? ›

The most common mistake is to put will in the conditional clause. The conditional clause must remain in the simple present tense. Incorrect: Sam won't go to the dance unless you will ask him.

What are the common mistakes in first conditional? ›

In the first conditional, we use the present simple in the if-clause and 'will' in the main clause. A very common error is to put 'will' in the if-clause: If you study more, your English will get better. If I see Peter, I'll ask him.

What are the common mistakes when learning first conditional? ›

Common Mistakes With The First Conditional Form

One of the most common mistakes is that students sometimes place the modal verb “will/won't” in the condition part of the sentence, which is incorrect. The “will/won't” modal verb belongs in the result part of the first conditional sentence.

How do you practice first conditional? ›

Make the first conditional
  1. If I. (go) out tonight, I. (go) to the cinema. ...
  2. If you. (get) back late, I. (be) angry. ...
  3. If we. (not/see) each other tomorrow, we. ...
  4. If he. (come) , I. ...
  5. If we. (wait) here, we. ...
  6. If we. (go) on holiday this summer, we. ...
  7. If the weather. (not/improve) , we. ...
  8. If I. (not/go) to bed early, I.

How do you prove a conditional statement? ›

So, in order to establish that a conditional statement is true, there's only one situation that matters: The truth of the hypothesis must ensure the truth of the conclusion. This observation provides an outline for the direct method for proving a conditional statement: If (H), then (C).

How many types of conditional sentences do you know? ›

There are four main types of conditional sentences, unimaginatively named the Zero Conditional, First Conditional, Second Conditional, and Third Conditional.

What have you learned that conditionals are used to? ›

We use conditionals to show that something is true only when something else is true. Conditionals offer endless possibilities for creative and imaginative expression. The present real conditional is the most basic kind of conditional.

What have you learned about conditional statement? ›

Hypotheses followed by a conclusion is called an If-then statement or a conditional statement. This is read - if p then q. A conditional statement is false if hypothesis is true and the conclusion is false. The example above would be false if it said "if you get good grades then you will not get into a good college".

What is conditional sentence short answer? ›

WHAT IS A CONDITIONAL SENTENCE? Conditional sentences have two parts or clauses that give a condition in the dependent clause and a result in the independent clause. The condition clause usually contains an if statement.

What is the use of conditional statement explain with example? ›

Example: We have a conditional statement If it is raining, we will not play. Let, A: It is raining and B: we will not play. Then; If A is true, that is, it is raining and B is false, that is, we played, then the statement A implies B is false.

Why conditionals are hard? ›

In sum, conditionals are the hardest to grasp because they encompass almost all English verb tenses and require learners to use any of them spontaneously at any given time and in any given context.

What is the importance of knowing conditional statements in arguments? ›

Since conditional statements (statements of the form p → q) are used to describe “cause and effect” relationships, they play a crucial role written communication and in logical argumentation. Because of the importance of conditional statements, we need to be able to recognize when a statement is conditional in form.

Why are conditional statements important in logic? ›

Conditional statements help mathematicians and computer programmers make decisions based on the state of a situation. While they vary in use and complexity, professionals typically use conditional statements to test hypotheses and establish rules for programs to follow.


1. CONDITIONALS | Learn all the conditionals | English grammar
(Learn Easy English)
2. THE CONDITIONALS - 0,1,2 & 3 Conditionals& QUIZ - English Grammar Lesson (+ Free PDF & Quiz)
(English with Lucy)
3. Conditional Statements: if p then q
(Dr. Trefor Bazett)
4. How to use conditional sentences in English - an easy guide
(David Crofts - Breaking Bad English)
5. When To Use ZERO + FIRST Conditional Sentences | Accurate English Grammar
6. How to Use the 1st Conditional | Grammar Lesson
(Interactive English)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Mr. See Jast

Last Updated: 02/06/2023

Views: 5335

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (55 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Mr. See Jast

Birthday: 1999-07-30

Address: 8409 Megan Mountain, New Mathew, MT 44997-8193

Phone: +5023589614038

Job: Chief Executive

Hobby: Leather crafting, Flag Football, Candle making, Flying, Poi, Gunsmithing, Swimming

Introduction: My name is Mr. See Jast, I am a open, jolly, gorgeous, courageous, inexpensive, friendly, homely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.