Do you know how to use conditionals? Native English speakers use the grammar structures known as zero and first conditional when speaking and writing. In today’s lesson, you will learn how to use zero and 1st conditional.
What is a conditional?
A conditional is a type of sentence that has two parts: the IF CLAUSE and the MAIN CLAUSE. You can also call these two parts the CONDITION and RESULT.
IF CLAUSE = CONDITION
MAIN CLAUSE = RESULT
The IF CLAUSE can come first or second in the sentence.
BE CAREFUL! If you start a sentence with the IF CLAUSE, you need to use a comma between the clauses.
If it rains, we won’t play tennis.
We won’t play tennis if it rains.
IF CLAUSE = if it rains
MAIN CLAUSE = we won’t play tennis
Zero Conditional Form
If/When + subject + present simple, subject + present simple
- Use zero conditional for facts or things that are always true
- You can use “if” or “when” to start the IF CLAUSE
- Zero conditional is used for real situations in the present (or past)
If/When you eat ice cream on a sunny day, it melts.
Ice cream melts if/when you eat it on a sunny day.
Other uses for zero conditional
You can also use zero conditional to describe a past habit that was always true.
If/When + subject + past simple, subject + past simple
If/When I visited the lake, I always went fishing. (past habit)
Zero Conditional Practice
Using the prompts, write sentences using the zero conditional. The answers are at the end of this post.
1st Conditional Form
If + subject + present simple, subject + will + base form
- Use 1st conditional for events or situations that are likely to happen
- First conditional is used for real situations in the present or future
If I study a lot for the exam, I will pass. (likely to be true in the future)
I’ll pass the exam if I study a lot for it.
Other uses for 1st conditional
You can also use other modal verbs instead of “will”
If you need money I can/might/could lend you some.
You can also use the imperative (a command)
If the ticket goes on sale, buy it. (instruction for a possible event)
First Conditional Practice
Complete the 1st conditional sentences using the pictures to help you. Possible answers are at the end of this post.
Native speakers use conditionals all the time so make sure to practice them! For more practice try Perfect English Grammar.
Next week we will take a look at second and third conditionals.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below!
Zero Conditional Practice Answers
- If/When you eat junk food, you feel sick.
- When/If she wears sunscreen, she doesn’t get a sunburn.
- If/When we don’t hear our alarms, we are late for work.
- I take a walk if/when the weather is nice.
- If/When he talks too much, they get annoyed.
1st Conditional Practice Possible Answers
- … I might bring my hiking boots.
- … use cash.
- … she’ll pass the exam.
- … our beaches will be full of trash.
For more free English practice, try these lessons: