Conditionals: Definition, Structure & Examples

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Conditionals: Definition, Structure & Examples

Normally conditional sentences are called conditionals. These sentences usually contain the conjunction IF. Sometimes  they are called 'if clauses'.

 

Types of Conditionals

There are mainly two types of conditionals:

The real conditionals

The real conditionals express factual or habitual conditions which have the possibility to occur in the future or generally occur in the present.

Example:

  • I’ll go if you give me the ball.
  • If I feel better, I’ll certainly play.
  • If you do well in the exams, I’ll buy you a gift.

Structures of the Real Conditionals:

For Future Conditions
If + subject + simple present tense + subject + will/can/may/must + verb in base form. . .
Subject + will/can/may/must + verb in base form. . . + if + subject + simple present tense
Example:
  • If I have the money, I will buy a new phone.
  • I can make you cry if you keep doing that.
  • If he goes there, he may get robbed.
  • If you go outside, you must wear heavy clothes.

 

For Habitual Conditions
If + subject + simple present tense + subject + simple present tense. . .
Subject + simple present tense + if + subject + simple present tense. .
Example:
  • If I have the money, I always buy the necessary things.
  • If Alex gets a break, he usually calls me.
  • He works hard if the payment is good.

 

For Commands
If + subject + simple present tense + command form (simple present) . . . . .
Command form (simple present). . . . .  + if + subject + simple present tense. 
Example:
  • If you have the money, use it wisely.
  • Please call me if you get a chance.

The unreal conditionals

The unreal conditionals express hypothetical conditions which have no possibility to occur in the past, present or future but describe what could/might have occurred supposedly.

Example:

  • If I were rich, I would travel my whole life.
  • If I had a car, I could go anywhere.
  • If we had not missed the train, we would have reached the city.

Structures of Unreal Conditionals:

For Present/Future Conditions
If + subject + simple past tense + subject + would/could/might + verb in base form. . .
subject + would/could/might + verb in base form + if + subject + simple past tense
Example:
  • If I had the money, I would buy a new phone.
  • If I were the president, I would not support war policies.
  • If he were not ill, he could come with us.
  • If I could play tomorrow, I would definitely win the match.

 

For Past Conditions
If + subject + past perfect tense + subject + would/could/might + have+ verb in past particple form
Subject + would/could/might + have + verb in past participle form + if + subject + simple past tense
Example:
  • If I had played well, we would have won the match.
  • I could have caught you if you had been a little closer.
  • If he had written well, I could have given him a better mark.

Note: There is another structure of unreal conditional which does not use the conjunction if. Had replaces if and creates a conditional sentence.

Had + subject + verb in past participle + subject + would/could/might + have + verb in past particple
Example:
  • Had I reached earlier, I could have caught the train.
  • Had she found the watch, she would have told me.

 

 

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