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 (361 votes)
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Hello Mary.888,

Yes, that's correct.

The conditional is formed first and then the rules of reported speech (verb backshifting) are applied, so 'study' becomes 'studied' and 'will buy' becomes 'would buy'. 

Your analysis is good - well done.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kyanlam on Wed, 08/02/2023 - 11:46

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Hi. Is it possible to say 'Life would be better when I do not health concerns'? Thanks.

Hi kyanlam,

Yes, if you add a verb: Life would be better when I do not have (any) health concerns.

If you consider this situation unlikely or unrealistic, you could say: Life would be better if I didn't have (any) health concerns. / Life would be better if I had no health concerns.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Many thanks for the reply!

Yes, I want to say that not having any health concerns is a certainty, thus "Life would be better when I do not have health concerns".

Please let me know if there are any errors in the above sentence. Thank you once again!

Hello ethanlam,

That is possible, but it sounds a little strange to me. When you say this, do you currently have health concerns, or did you recently have them? If that's the case, I think a straight first conditional sentence like 'Life will be better when I have no health concerns' would express this idea better.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by AmarendraGoel123 on Fri, 06/01/2023 - 11:36

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The climate of Belgaum is like that (= climate) of Pune.

Sir, in this sentence, is 'like' a preposition?

Hello AmarendraGoel123,

Yes, that's correct. You might be interested in having a look at this page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amani Sweidan on Sun, 27/11/2022 - 06:21

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Hi, another question please,

Which is correct to say?

If I have a job, that would be great!

or

If I have a job, that will be great!

Thank you!

Hello Amani Sweidan,

The second sentence is correct.

If I have... describes a true, possible or likely condition, and you cannot mix this with a hypothetical result. Thus, would is not possible and will is correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Please tell me the answer, sir. Thanks....
"If the weather is fine, I will go on a picnic with my friends," she said to me.