Conditional Sentences in English Using “If” Clauses: First, Second, Third Conditionals Plus Examples

CONDITIONAL SENTENCES IN ENGLISH: First Conditional, Second Conditional, Third Conditional 

 

FIRST CONDITIONAL

First Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is very likely to happen if another thing happens.

  • One part of the sentence begins with “if”.
  • The “if” clause is in the simple present tense.
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.
  • The second clause, or part of the sentence, is directly related to the “if clause” and is in the future tense.

EXAMPLES:

I will be excited if you are exciting.

If you are exciting I will be excited.

 

If I hurry, I will catch the bus.

I will catch the bus if I hurry.


SECOND CONDITIONAL

Second Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is NOT very likely to happen (although the speaker wishes that it would happen).

  • The “if” clause uses the simple past tense.
  • The second clause uses the conditional modal “would”
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.

The second clause, or part of the sentence, is directly related to the “if clause” but only to explain why the if clause is unlikely.

EXAMPLES

If I ate fewer carbs, I would be thinner.

I would be thinner if I ate fewer carbs.

 

If you studied harder you would do well.

You would do well if you studied harder.

 

 

THIRD CONDITIONAL

Third Conditional sentences have two (or more) clauses that are related to one another. It talks about something that is impossible because the opposite has probably already occurred. It is like a counterfactual.

  • The “if” clause uses the PAST PERFECT
  • The second clause uses the conditional perfect “would have”
  • The “if” appear either at the beginning or at the end.

EXAMPLES:

If I had known, I would not have said yes.

I would not have said yes if I had known.

 

If the surgery had worked, she would have been gorgeous.

She would have been gorgeous if the surgery had worked.

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