english grammer for CBSE Students

A conditional sentence is a sentence containing the word if.

There are three common types* of conditional sentence:

if clause > present simple tense : main clause > future tense (will)

Example:

  • If you help me, I will help you.
  • If I win the lottery, I will buy a new car.
  • If it snows tomorrow, we will go skiing.

if clause > past simple tense : main clause > would

Example:

  • If you knew her, you would agree with me.
  • If I won the lottery, I would buy a new car.
  • If it snowed tomorrow, we would go skiing.

if clause > past perfect tense : main clause > would have

Example:

  • If you had helped me, I would have helped you.
  • If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a new car.
  • If it had snowed yesterday, we would have gone skiing.

Of course, it is possible to start conditional sentences with the main clause:

Example:

  • I will buy a new car if I win the lottery.
  • I would buy a new car if I won the lottery.
  • I would have bought a new car if I had won the lottery.

English speakers choose one of the three conditional structures as follows:

Conditional one: to express a simple statement of fact or intent

Example:

  • I will buy a new car if I win the lottery.
  • I will go home if you don’t stop criticizing me.
  • You will fail your exams if you don’t start working harder.
  • She will lose all her friends if she continues to talk about them behind their backs.

Conditional two: to refer to a present unreal situation or to a situation in the future that the speaker thinks is unlikely to happen

Example:

  • If I had a lot of money, I would buy a new car. (but I don’t have a lot of money)
  • If I were you, I would tell him you’re sorry. (but I am not you)
  • If I won the lottery, I would buy a new house. (but I don’t expect to win the lottery)
  • If it snowed tomorrow, we would go skiing. (but I don’t have much hope that it will snow)

Conditional three: to refer to the past and situations that did not happen

Example:

  • If it had snowed yesterday, we would have gone skiing. (but it didn’t snow, so we didn’t go skiing)
  • If you had studied harder, you would have passed your test. (but you didn’t study hard, so you didn’t pass your test)
  • If I had known that, I would have told you. (but I didn’t know, so I didn’t tell you)
  • If she hadn’t been driving slowly, she would have had an accident. (but she was driving slowly, so she didn’t have an accident)

 

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