Conditionals: zero, first and second

Conditionals: zero, first and second

Do you know how to use the zero, first and second conditionals? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how zero, first and second conditionals are used.

If you freeze water, it becomes solid.
If it rains tomorrow, I'll take the car.
If I lived closer to the cinema, I would go more often.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Conditionals 1: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Conditionals describe the result of a certain condition. The if clause tells you the condition (If you study hard) and the main clause tells you the result (you will pass your exams). The order of the clauses does not change the meaning.

If you study hard, you will pass your exams.
You will pass your exams if you study hard.

Conditional sentences are often divided into different types.

Zero conditional

We use the zero conditional to talk about things that are generally true, especially for laws and rules.

If I drink too much coffee, I can't sleep at night.
Ice melts if you heat it.
When the sun goes down, it gets dark.

The structure is: if/when + present simple >> present simple.

First conditional

We use the first conditional when we talk about future situations we believe are real or possible.

If it doesn't rain tomorrow, we'll go to the beach.
Arsenal will be top of the league if they win.
When I finish work, I'll call you.

In first conditional sentences, the structure is usually: if/when + present simple >> will + infinitive. 

It is also common to use this structure with unless, as long as, as soon as or in case instead of if.

I'll leave as soon as the babysitter arrives.
I don't want to stay in London unless I get a well-paid job.
I'll give you a key in case I'm not at home.
You can go to the party, as long as you're back by midnight.

Second conditional

The second conditional is used to imagine present or future situations that are impossible or unlikely in reality.

If we had a garden, we could have a cat.
If I won a lot of money, I'd buy a big house in the country.
I wouldn't worry if I were you.

The structure is usually: if + past simple >> + would + infinitive. 

When if is followed by the verb be, it is grammatically correct to say if I were, if he were, if she were and if it were. However, it is also common to hear these structures with was, especially in the he/she form.

If I were you, I wouldn't mention it.
If she was prime minister, she would invest more money in schools.
He would travel more if he was younger.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Conditionals 1: Grammar test 2

Language level

Average: 4.1 (367 votes)

Hello again Yigido,

What you wrote can work as a general recommendation, but I wouldn't call it a rule. In other words, there is no rule against using conjunctions in conditional sentences, but in the particular sentence you asked about, I'd recommend breaking it into two sentences.

This is not because the sentence is a conditional so much as it has to do with avoiding run-on sentences.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Vitalii Bordun

Submitted by Vitalii Bordun on Fri, 04/12/2020 - 13:42

Hello. Why in the rule in the Second conditional is - he/she/it were, but in the examples is - he/she was?
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Fri, 04/12/2020 - 13:55

In reply to by Vitalii Bordun


Hello Vitalii Bordun,

Both 'was' and 'were' are correct in the second conditional and other situations that are considered hypothetical or unreal.

In other words, you can use a past simple form ('was' or 'were' depending on the person) or you can use 'were' for any person ('I', 'they', 'she', etc.).

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bineetha on Fri, 30/10/2020 - 11:42

Please let me know what type of conditional sentence is this. For example, it would be appreciated if you could assess Mr John for any pancreatic malignancy.

Hello Bineetha,

That has the form of a second conditional, but really it's a polite request. In other words, this is a polite way of saying 'Please assess Mr John for any pancreatic malignancy'. It's polite because it's indirect -- the hypothetical way it expresses the action makes it indirect.

Does that make sense?

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Via on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 05:58

Hello, When should we use 'will' and 'would' when making a sentence? I mean the condition, I have a little bit confusing about this. Thank you
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 07:11

In reply to by Via


Hello Via,

I'm afraid this is a very general question. The comments sections of the site are for short answers rather than long explanations. We're happy to explain any examples on our pages which you find confusing or unclear, and we'll try to help if you need help expressing something.


Longer explanations are published on our pages and if you search for a given topic in the grammar reference section then you'll often find the information you need. We have a page on will vs would, for example:

We also have a page on verb forms in time clauses and if clauses:



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by polina1526 on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 17:04

This excersice could become really helpful for students in Russia who are willing to pass the English Unified State Exam at the end of the 11th form. In this exam, one needs to write an essay and give a lot of examples on the topic, so using the conditionals is an excellent way to show the point of view and make it seem more structured.

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Fri, 25/09/2020 - 00:15

Thanks for the lesson