Zero and First Conditional

Zero and First Conditional Grammar Lesson

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

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)

Example

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.

Zero Conditional Practice

First Conditional

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

Example

If I study a lot for the exam, I will pass. (likely to be true in the future)

Ill 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.

Practice 1
Practice 2
Practice 3
Practice 4

Final Thoughts

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!

Answers

Zero Conditional Practice Answers

  1. If/When you eat junk food, you feel sick.
  2. When/If she wears sunscreen, she doesn’t get a sunburn.
  3. If/When we don’t hear our alarms, we are late for work.
  4. I take a walk if/when the weather is nice.
  5. 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:

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