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Zero and First Conditional

 
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    Zero conditional: things that are generally true

    We often associate if' sentences with unreal situations (2nd) or future possibilities (1st) but there is a conditional, or if' sentence, that gives the speaker the chance to talk about things that are very real in the present.

     

    The zero conditional sentences are used to make a statement that is generally true or we can also use the zero conditional to talk about situations that are always true from the speaker's point of view. Like all conditional sentences come in 2 parts or clauses, For example:

     

    If + subject + present simple (negative), subject + present simple (negative)

     

    If/when' clause Main clause
    If people laugh about something, they feel better
    If he goes to bed late, he doesn't enjoy the next day 

     

     

    Usingwhen' to add certainty

    Another variation of the zero conditional includeswhen'. By using when' in the zero conditional construction, we make the sentence stronger in terms of the reality of the situation. In both sentences below the speaker listens to music when he or she goes home. In sentence a) the possibility of actually going home seems less real than in sentence b) because we have used when'

     

    If/when' clause

    Main clause

    a) If I go home,

    I listen to music

    b) When I go home,

    I listen to music

     

     

    First conditional: possibilities in the future

    The 1st conditional is used to describe a future possibility based on changing events in the present. As the sentences describe a future possibility,will' is commonly used but might' andcould' can also be used in the second clause. When' is used with the first conditional in a very similar way to the zero conditional mentioned earlier. By using when' in the first conditional we describe a situation that is more possible. 

     

    If/when + subject + present , will (not)/might (not)/could (not)+ infinitive

     

     

    If/when' clause

    Main clause

    Explanation

    If he shouts,

    I will get angry

    A man is not shouting now but if the situation changes, I will get angry in the future as a result

    If I don't get paid,

    I might not go out

    I haven't been paid yet but when I have the money, there is a 50/50 chance of me going out later

    If the weather is sunny,

    we could go to the beach

    If there is sunshine, we have the possibility of going to the beach later

    When I get to the cafe,

    I will drink a coffee

    The speaker is very certain about their intentions when they get to the cafe. They are definitely going to drink coffee

     

    Warning!

     

    It's important to remember NOT to put the modal verb (will', could' or might') in the conditional or if/when' clause when using conditional sentences:

     

    • If I have time, I will cook something tasty (NOT If I will have time I will cook something tasty)

     

     

    Flexibility in conditional sentences

    Conditional sentences are flexible, you can swap the if/when clause' with the second clause and the meaning does not change and  you can do this with all conditional sentences. Note that the comma (,) is lost when we swap the clauses:
      

    • If people laugh about something, they feel better = people feel better if they laugh about something

    • If he shouts, I will get angry = I will get angry if he shouts

     

     

    Conditional sentences - question forms

    It is unusual to use the zero conditional in questions but it is possible. Also, the first conditional is used to ask about the future possibility of something happening. For example:
      

    • If you hear the alarm, do you wake up?

    • If you have time, will you visit her?

     

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