Conditional Sentence Tips- How They Are Used?

IELTS is an international English language test that judges your proficiency in the writing, reading, listening, and speaking of the language. English grammar plays an important role in this particular exam as it constitutes 25% marks of the total.

Here we come up with our new topic of English grammar, that is, conditional grammar.

The condition means a hypothetical situation where things might happen. A condition always has an 'if' statement in it. A conditional statement is a combination of a conditional clause and a consequential result.

For example

● If you study hard, you will get good marks.

Here the first sentence is a conditional clause and the part after a comma is the outcome (result) of the first sentence.

Types Of Conditional Sentences

Well, that's not all. Let's have a look at the type of conditional sentences which English grammar offers. There are four types of conditional statements in the grammar of the English language which have been discussed as follows in detail:-

1. Type 0- General truths and expected outcomes

Type 0 conditional sentences are used to talk about these situations of regular truth and the result is inevitable. After a conditional clause, the result is the certain one. In which type of sentence, simple present tense is used to write both the conditional clause and the result. The situations in which one thing always causes another is a feature of type zero conditionals.

Also Read- Rules of Tenses in English Grammar- Examples & Exercise

The format of this type of sentence is:-

If (or when) [condition] occurs, [result] happens.

For example:-

● If I eat too much chocolate, I feel sick. (Incorrect- I will feel sick).

● When it rains, the road gets wet. (Incorrect- the road will get wet).

● If you don’t brush your teeth, you get cavities.

● When people smoke cigarettes, their health suffers.

● When water reaches 100 degrees, it boils.

The words “if” and “when” are interchangeable in type zero conditionals.

Question- Why is the use of will incorrect?

Answer- well, the result is certain and it doesn't depend on the situation that 'if' and 'when' it happens.

2. Type 1- Possible situation and a likely outcome

Type one conditional statement is used to define the possible situation and the result will be the outcome of that situation. Here, the result is not certain or guaranteed. In these types of sentences, unlike the zero conditionals, the result clause will always be in a simple future tense. Whereas, the conditional clause remains in the simple present tense.

The format of the type one conditional statement is-

If [condition] happens, [result] will happen.

For example:-

● If you go to bed now, you will feel better in the morning.

● If you rest, you will feel better.

● If you set your mind to a goal, you’ll eventually achieve it.

The result here in the above sentences is not certain that after taking a rest, one will feel better or not, or it is not certain that setting a mind to the goal makes it achievable.

So it is recommended to use the zero conditional (i.e., simple present + simple present) only when a result is guaranteed and if the result is likely, use the first conditional (i.e., simple present + simple future).

3. Type 2- Unrealistic situation and a potential result

Type two conditional sentences are used to express an unreal situation with its result. In these types of sentences, the conditional clause is in simple past tense and the result uses the 'would' statement in it.

The format of the sentences is:-

If [condition] happened, [result] would happen.

For example:-

● If I knew the answer, I would tell you.

● If I inherited a billion dollars, I would travel to the moon.

● If I owned a zoo, I might let people interact with the animals more.

● If I flew, I would have covered the whole world.

● I would travel around the world if I won the lottery.

4. Type 3- unreal past condition and their outcome

Type three conditionals are used to express the unreal past condition and its likely result which might have occurred. Here the past perfect tense is used for a conditional clause and the result is in 'would have' conditional form.

The format of the sentences is:-

If [condition] had happened, [result] would have happened.

For example

● If Jim had got up earlier, he would have been on time for work.

● If you had told me you needed a ride, I would have left earlier.

● If I had cleaned the house, I could have gone to the movies

We use this type of conditional when something hasn’t happened in reality.

Mixed Type Conditionals

A mixed type of conditional statement is a combination of two types of conditional statements mentioned above. It is a type of sentence where the conditional statement and the result statement happens at two different times.

For example:

● If we had asked for directions, we would be there now.

● If we had looked at the map we wouldn't be lost

● I would have a better job now if I had worked harder at school.

● If you had caught that plane you would be dead now.

● We wouldn't be lost if we had looked at the map.

Here, in the first sentence, the conditional clause (If we had asked for directions) is in the past perfect, while the result (we would be there now) is in the simple present conditional tense. It is, hence, a mix of type 3 and types 2 above.

Variations in Conditional Sentences

Above are some of the basic forms of conditional statements. However, some of the variations suggested for these statements can be:-

● Changing the order of the sentences

● Using other words than 'if' for a conditional clause.

● Using the negative form of conditional sentences.

Some examples of the variations can be seen as below:-

● I feel sick if I eat too much chocolate.

● If you don’t go to bed now, you will feel tired in the morning.

● Were I in your position, I would apologize.

● You will feel better if you rest.

Things to remember when using Conditional statements:-

● It’s important to use the correct structure for each of the conditional sentences because they express diverse meanings.

● Pay attention to the verb of the tense when using different conditional clauses.

● Use comma always after the if-clause or when the if-clause precedes the main clause.

Exceptions and Special Cases When Using Conditional Sentences

English grammar has always been trickier in all of its topics. So, why will the topic of conditional grammar be left behind? Well, below are some of the exceptions and special cases of usage of conditional statements discussed as:-

● Action in the 'if' clause

Take a look at this sentence:-

If aspirin will ease my headache, I will take a couple of tonight.

The action is in the if-clause that if the medicine will work, the result will be prompted.

● “Were to” in the If-Clause

The verb phrase 'was to' is sometimes used in Conditional sentences when the likely or unlikely result is particularly unthinkable. In this case, 'were to' is used to focus on the potential outcome.

Take a look at these sentences:

➔ If I were to be sick, I would miss another day of work.

➔ If she were to be late again, she would have to have a conference with the manager.

➔ If the rent were to have been a penny more, they would not have been able to pay it.

Note that the emphatic “were to” can be used to describe hypothetical scenarios in the present, future, and past.

Conditional grammar and conditional sentences always have an If Clause in it and it is a combination of two clauses, a condition, and a result. Hope that the aforementioned information will be helpful for you and you will get an idea of using these sentences in the correct way. Practice for the topic and keep visiting for new topics of English Grammar.

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