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9-H) Conditionals (LearnEnglishHere) (foreign) UNIT 9 lesson H

Professor P. Enguin is here to help you revise the Zero, First, and Second Conditionals.

After watching the video, read the explanations and then watch the other videos in this lesson.

You can also read a lesson about conditionals here:


When we want to express a condition in English, we use the conjunction IF:

- If you need a bicycle, I can give you mine

The if-clause = If you need a bicycle
The main clause = I can give you mine

A conditional sentence expresses this idea: when the if-clause is true, the main clause is also true, but when the if-clause is not true, the main clause can't be true.

- if you want some water, I will give you a glass:
possibility 1- you want some water. I give you a glass
possibility 2- you don't want some water. I don't give you a glass

The verb in the if-clause is usually different from the verb in the main clause. The combination of tenses is almost "infinite", but there are 4 combinations that are more usual than the rest, and we are going to study those combinations here. We call them "types".

TYPE 0 (eternal conditions) --> present + present
We use the simple present in the if-clause and also the simple present in the main clause.
We use this type to talk about something that is always true (for example, a scientific fact).

- If you drop a stone, it falls down to the ground    (this happens now, in the past and in the future)
- If you heat ice, it melts

TYPE 1 (future conditions) --> present + will / 'll
We use this type to talk about a condition that may happen in the future (we are talking about a future situation)

- If you come, I will tell you that  = If you come here in the future, I will tell you that in the future
- if you need a car tomorrow, I will give you mine

TYPE 2 (present condition) --> past + would / 'd
We use this type to talk about a present situation that is impossible (or it seems impossible to us)

- If he needed something, he would tell me = but he doesn't need anything, so he doesn't tell me
- If I had a lot of money, I would buy a bigger house = but I don't have a lot of money, so I can't buy a bigger house
- If I had the time, I'd visit you today = but I don't have the time, so I can't visit you today

TYPE 3 (past condition) --> past perfect (had + past participle) + would have
(if your level of English is low, you don't need to study this type)
We use this type to talk about a past situation that never happened

- If I had known you were coming to visit me, I wouldn't have gone away = but I didn't know, so I went away
- If she had been rich, nobody would have sent her out of the party = but she wasn't rich, and they sent her away


Apart from those 4 types, in real English we can find just about any combination, depending on the situation. For example:

If-Present + imperative= If you see my sister, tell her to come home.
If-Present + going to= If you pass your exams, we’re going to have a party.
Would + If-passive past= What would you do if your house was destroyed.
If-Present + would= If I call the police, would you run away?
If-Present + may= If you leave the door open, someone may come in.
Should + If-Present= What should I do if I hear the fire alarm?
If-Present perfect + present= If he has seen this movie, I’m sure he likes it.

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