Level: beginner

Verbs in time clauses and conditionals usually follow the same patterns as in other clauses but there are some differences when we:

  • talk about the future
  • make hypotheses.

Talking about the future

In time clauses with words like when, after and until, we often use present tense forms to talk about the future:

I'll come home when I finish work.
You must wait here until your father comes.
They are coming after they have had dinner.

In conditional clauses with words like if, unless, even if, we often use present tense forms to talk about the future:

We won't be able to go out if it is raining.
I will come tomorrow unless I have to look after the children.
Even if Barcelona lose tomorrow, they will still be champions.

We do not normally use will in time clauses and conditional clauses:

I'll come home when I finish work. (NOT will finish work)
We won't be able to go out if it rains. (NOT will rain)
It will be nice to see Peter when he gets home. (NOT will get home)
You must wait here until you father comes. (NOT will come)

but we can use will if it means want to or be willing to:

I will be very happy if you will come to my party.
We should finish the job early if George will help us.

Future time and conditional clauses 1

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Future time and conditional clauses 2

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Level: intermediate

Making hypotheses

Some conditional clauses are like hypotheses, so we use past tense forms.

We use past tense forms to talk about something that does not happen or is not happening in the present:

He could get a new job if he really tried.
        (= He cannot get a job because he has not tried.)
If Jack was playing, they would probably win.
        (= Jack is not playing so they will probably not win.)
If I had his address, I could write to him.
        (= I do not have his address so I cannot write to him.)

We use past tense forms to talk about something that we believe or know will not happen in the future:

We would go by train if it wasn't so expensive.
       (= We will not go by train because it is too expensive.)
I would look after the children for you at the weekend if I was at home.
       (= I cannot look after the children because I will not be at home.)

We use past tense forms to make suggestions about what might happen in the future:

If he came tomorrow, we could borrow his car.
If we invited John, Mary would bring Angela.

After I/he/she/it, we can use were instead of was:

If Jack was/were playing, they would probably win.
We would go by train if it wasn't/weren’t so expensive.
I would look after the children for you at the weekend if I was/were at home.

We use the past perfect to talk about something which did not happen in the past:

If you had seen him, you could have spoken to him.
        (= You did not see him so you could not speak to him.)
You could have stayed with us if you had come to London.
        (= You could not stay with us because you did not come to London.)
If we hadn't spent all our money, we could take a holiday.
        (= We have spent all our money so we cannot take a holiday.)
If I had got the job, we would be living in Paris.
        (= I did not get the job, so we are not living in Paris.)

If the main clause of a hypothetical conditional is about the present or future, we use a modal:

If I had got the job, we might be living in Paris now.
        (= I did not get the job so we are not living in Paris now.)
If you had done your homework, you would know the answer.
        (= You did not do your homework so you do not know the answer.)

If the main clause is about the past, we use a modal with have

If I had seen him, I would have spoken to him.
       (= I did not see him so I did not speak to him.)
You could have stayed with us if you had come to London.
       (= You could not stay with us because you did not come to London.)
If you had invited me, I might have come.
       (= You did not invite me so I did not come.)

Hypothetical conditionals: present/future 1

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Hypothetical conditionals: present/future 2

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Hypothetical conditionals: past 1

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Hypothetical conditionals: past 2

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Comments

Hello avnrao,

Yes, this is a somewhat odd combination; though sometimes native speakers use these forms, I would avoid this particular combination.

Typically, in a first conditional construction, a present simple verb in the 'if' clause is followed by 'will' + infinitive (though other forms are also possible) in the main clause -- in this case, it would be 'India will have ...'. In a second conditional construction, there are really only two forms that are possible in standard use: past simple in the 'if' clause and 'would' + infinitive -- in this case, 'If ... were arrested, India would have ...'.

You can read more about conditional constructions on our Conditionals 1 and 2 pages. But if you have any further questions after reading them, please don't hesitate to ask us again.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

what is the difference between dry fruits and currants

Hello guddeti sahasra,

You can find both words in the Cambridge Dictionary. If you look at the entry for 'currant', for example, you'll see that it is a type of dried fruit.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi team
What's the difference between
we would go by train if it was not so expensive.
We would go by train if it were not so expensive.
I am really confused when to use were instead of was.

Hello sonss,

There is no difference in meaning. In traditional grammars, 'were' (a subjunctive form) was always used in a second conditional sentence, but nowadays both 'were' is commonly accepted for all persons and 'was' is also accepted for first and third person singular subjects (e.g. 'I', 'she', etc.). If you want to sound a bit more formal, I'd recommend 'were'; otherwise you can use either one.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

if i HAVE HAD money,i would have bought new car
a.had b.had had
which one is correct?

Hello guddeti sahasra,

'had had' is the correct form here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

can we use modal verbs like can ,will,may.....in subordinate clause of if conditionals
eg;if you can do this it will be helpful to me

Hello guddeti sahasra,

Yes, that is fine. The modal verbs most commonly used in the if-clause are can and could, used to make polite requests. Other modals are possible, but are less common ('If I might...', 'If I may...)

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir, i'm quite confused of under what kind of situation to use "have had". Like the example given above is: They are coming after they have had dinner.
Can i say: They are coming after they have the dinner.

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