The first conditional describes something that is fairly likely to happen (in fact a real condition) and what will, can or might happen as a consequence of the happening:
– If she misses the appointment tomorrow, she won’t get to see the doctor!
It is made up of a conditional clause (if + present simple) and a main clause with the result of hat condition (will / won’t + base form):
– If she forgets anything, I‘ll bring it to her tomorrow.
P.S.: The main clause with the result can also use can or might instead of will:
– If she leaves work early, she can meet her friend for a drink before dinner.
- The second conditional describes imaginary situations (unreal conditions) and results of these conditions that could be possible.
The conditional clause is made with if + the past simple, and the main clause is made with would / wouldn’t + base form of the verb:
– If I won the lottery, I‘d buy a new car.
When using the conditional clause in the 1st or 3rd person singular (I/he/she/it),
– were(n’t) is allowed in formal English (If I were a boy, …, If she were more gracious, …) and
– was(n’t) in less formal English (If I was a boy, …, If she was more gracious, …)
The second conditional can be used to give advice:
– If I were you, I’d quit the job.
Could and might can also be used in the main clause instead of would:
– I could write that book! if I quit the job.
– I might go home and eat something delicious.
- The third conditional describes a condition in the past that was not fulfilled and an imaginary result. It’s an unreal and no longer possible condition, and the sentences imagine the past being different from what it really was.
It’s made up of a conditional clause with if + the past perfect and a main clause with would / wouldn’t have + the past participle of the main verb:
– If I had taken the train, Iwould have arrived on time. Could and might can also be used in the main clause instead of would.
- The 3rd can be used to express regret or hapiness about things of the past:
– If I had fixed the sink sooner, there wouldn’t have been so much damage. (regret)
– If she hadn’t read the book, she wouldn’t have been the contented person she is today. (happiness)
Summary | Conditionals (if clauses)
|type 1||If the trains are late,||she won’t be at the party on time.|
|type 2||If I were you,||I’d quit that job!|
|type 3||If I had known that earlier,||I could have made a better decision.|
|mixed||If you’d gone to bed earlier,||you’d be having a better day!|