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

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Hi tranquocvien,

The sentence is grammatically correct. (Was that your question?)


The LearnEnglish Team

This is my question.
"If the weather is fine, I will go on a picnic with my friends," she said to me.
Which is correct?
She told me if the weather was fine, she would go on a picnic with her friends.
She told me if the weather were fine, she would go on a picnic with her friends.

Hello tranquocvien,

Both are correct. I'd say most people use 'was' here, but 'were' is also correct. Some traditionalists would even say that 'were' is the only correct answer here, but in terms of what people actually say and write, there is no question that both forms are correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


And this question, sir.
Which is correct?
If you _________ trouble, we’ll call the police.
a. are going to make b. are making

Hi tranquocvien,

Both answers can work here, but I'd say a) is more common.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


So if i say ''if i win a lottery, i'll buy a house'' and i believe it, that means it's the first condition.

And if i say ''if i won a lottery, i'd buy a house'' but we dont believe it, that means it's the second condition?

Thanks for the answer.

Hi fuselka,

Yes, that's right. Of course, the reason you choose either structure is because you believe a situation is possible/likely or not so the belief comes first - it is the belief that makes you choose one or other other.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Amani Sweidan on Sun, 27/11/2022 - 05:55


Hi, a question please.

Is it correct to say? and why?

If the man I knew before was live, I would ask him


If the man I knew before was alive, I would have asked him

Thank you!

Hi Amani Sweidan,

The correct form is 'alive'.

When used in this way (following the verb 'be'), alive means living and not dead, while live means not recorded. Thus, a concert can be live but a person is alive.



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Perter,

Thank you for your prompt reply,

But sorry it was a typing mistake; I was checking if I should use

If the man I knew before was alive, I (would ask) him
If the man I knew before was alive, I (would have asked) him

Thank you!