Browse Tag: conditionals

Understanding Conditionals IV: Mixed Conditionals

There are two mixed types of sentences of unreal condition:

1.) If – clause refers to the present and the main clause refers to the past.
e.g. If he were a fast runner, he would have won the race.

If – clause refers to the past and the main clause refers to the present.
e.g. If he had found a job, he wouldn’t be searching for one now.

Sometimes we make sentences which mix Second and Third Conditionals, especially when a past event has an effect in the present.

Example:
a.) If you hadn’t invited me, I wouldn’t have gone to the party. (=I did go to the party – Third Conditional).
If you hadn’t invited me, I wouldn’t be here now. (=I’m at the party now. – Third + Second Conditionals)

b.) If you had planned things properly, you wouldn’t have got into a mess. (=You didn’t plan – Third Conditional)

If you had planned things at the start, we wouldn’t be in this mess now (=We are in trouble now – Third + Second Conditionals)
All types of conditionals can be mixed. Any tense combination is possible if the context permits it.

Conditional clause main clause
If nobody phoned him he won’t come to the meeting.
If he knew her, he would have spoken to her.
If he had found a job, he wouldn’t be searching for one now.

Exercises: Put the verbs in brackets into the correct form.

  1. If you (not spend) so much money, I (not be) angry now.
  2. If they (post) the parcel yesterday, it (get) here before Friday.
  3. If you (not wake) me up in the middle of the night, I (not feel) so tired now.
  4. If Tom (be) a bit more ambitious, he (find) himself a better job years ago.
  5. If you (know) me better, you (say) that.

Answers:

  1. If you hadn’t spent so much money, I wouldn’t be angry now.
  2. If they posted the parcel yesterday, it won’t get here before Friday.
  3. If you hadn’t woken me up in the middle of the night, I wouldn’t feel so tired now.
  4. If Tom was a bit more ambitious, he would have found himself a better job years ago.
  5. If you knew me better, you wouldn’t have said that.

Understanding Conditionals III: Third Conditional

by Nigina Dustova

We use the Third Conditional to talk about an event or situation that did not happen in the past:

Conditional clause main clause
If + Past Perfect – would + Perfect

If David had been more careful, he wouldn’t have fallen.
If you hadn’t made the mistake, you’d have passed your test.

We can use could + perfect in the if-clause.
If I could have warned you in time, I would have done.

We can use other modal verbs such as could or might+ perfect in the main clause.
If I’d written the address down, I could have saved myself some trouble.

The plan might not have worked if we hadn’t had one great piece of luck.
We can also use continuous forms.

If he hadn’t been evicted by his landlord, he wouldn’t have been sleeping in the streets.
If he had been traveling in that car, he would have been killed too.

Exercises: Put the verbs in brackets into the correct tenses.

  1. If he (not take) his gloves off he (not get) frost bitten.
  2. He didn’t tell me that he was a vegetarian till halfway through the meal. If he (tell) me earlier I (cook) him something more suitable.
  3. I had no map; that’s why I got lost. If I (had) a map I (be) all right.
  4. It’s a pity he never patented his invention. If he (patent) it he (make) a lot of money.
  5. The club secretary is useless. He never tells anybody anything. We (not know) about this meeting if the chairman (not tell) us.

Answers:

  1. If he had not taken his gloves off, he wouldn’t have got frost bitten.
  2. He didn’t tell me that he was a vegetarian till halfway through the meal. If he had told me earlier I would have cooked him something more suitable.
  3. I had no map; that’s why I got lost. If I had had a map I would have been all right.
  4. It’s a pity he never patented his invention. If he had patented it he would have made a lot of money.
  5. The club secretary is useless. He never tells anybody anything. We wouldn’t have known about this meeting if the chairman hadn’t told us.

Note: When you are talking about something that might have happened in the past but did not happen, you use the past perfect tense in the conditional clause. In the main clause, you use `would have’.

Undrestanding Conditionals II: Second Conditional

In the previous post, we have written about First Conditional. In this post, we continue this series by talking about Second Conditional.

We use Second Conditional for unlikely situations in the present or future:
Conditional clause –  Main clause

If + Past Simple – would
If I had a million pounds, I would probably buy a yacht.

The if – clause is usually past simple. However, we can also use the past continuous, could, or were/was to:

If you were coming with me, I’d give you a lift.
If I could have the day off, I’d come with you.
If you were to ask John, I’m sure he would do it.

In the conditional clause, `were’ is sometimes used instead of `was’, especially after `I’.

If I were as big as you, I would kill you.
If I were asked to define my condition, I’d say `bored’.

The main clause often has ‘would’. We can also use ‘could’ or ‘might’.

If we had a calculator, we could work this out a lot quicker.
If she worked harder, she might do even better at her studies.

Exercises: Put the verbs in brackets into the correct form.

  1. If we (work) all night we (finish) in time, but we have no intention of working all night.
  2. If someone (ring) my doorbell at 3 a.m. I (be) very unwilling to open the door.
  3. If I (have) heaps of money I (drink) champagne with every meal.
  4. If the earth suddenly (stop) spinning we all (fly) off it.
  5. Of course I’m not going to give her a diamond ring. If I (give) her a diamond ring she (sell) it.

Answers:

  1. If we worked all night we would finish in time, but we have no intention of working all night.
  2. If someone rang my doorbell at 3 a.m. I would be very unwilling to open the door.
  3. If I had heaps of money I would drink champagne with every meal.
  4. If the earth suddenly stopped spinning, we would all fly off it.
  5. Of course I’m not going to give her a diamond ring. If I gave her a diamond ring she would sell it.

Note: When you are talking about an unlikely situation, you use the simple past tense in the conditional clause, and `would’ in the main clause.

Understanding Conditionals I: First Conditional

We use First Conditionals to talk about events which are possible. The Conditional clause can refer to the present or the future.

Conditional clause main clause
If + Present Simple – will + bare infinitive

  1. If we hurry, we’ll catch the bus.
  2. If we miss it, there’ll be another one.

The Conditional clause can come before or after the main clause. We use a comma at the end of the Conditional clause when it comes first.

  1. If I hear any news, I’ll phone you.
  2. I will phone you if I hear any news.

Other structures are possible, depending on what you want to say.
Conditional clause main clause
If + Present Simple – modal verb
If + Present Simple – be going to (future)
If + Present Simple – Imperative
If + Present Continuous – will + bare infinitive
If + Present Perfect – will + bare infinitive
If + Present Perfect – modal verb
Imperative – and/or + will

Exercises: Put the verbs in brackets into the correct form.

  1. If you (see) Tom (tell) him I have message for him.
  2. If you’d like some ice I (get) some from the fridge.
  3. That book is overdue. If you (not take) it back to the library tomorrow you (have) to pay a fine.
  4. If you (want) to see some of his drawings I (send) them round to your office.
  5. (take) more exercise and you’ll soon feel better.

Answers:

  1. If you see Tom tell him I have message for him.
  2. If you’d like some ice I will get some from the fridge.
  3. That book is overdue. If you don’t take it back to the library tomorrow you will have to pay a fine.
  4. If you want to see some of his drawings I will send them round to your office.
  5. Take more exercise and you’ll soon feel better.

Note: Conditional clauses are often used in imperative structures. Present Simple in Conditional clause and imperative in the main clause.

When you are talking about a possible situation in the present, or a possible future occurrence, you usually use the simple present tense in the conditional clause and the simple future tense in the main clause.
If the sentence starts with the Imperative verb, you use simple future tense in the main clause.