Return to Grammar: A Guide for ESL Students


The Zero Conditional

Situations that are always true if something happens.


  • If + present simple, present simple.
  • Present simple if + present simple.


  • If I am late, my father takes me to school.
  • She doesn’t worry if Jack stays out after school.

For more about the Zero Conditional, see the Zero Conditional Page


The First Conditional    

These situations take place if a certain condition is met.


  • If present simple, will + base verb (+ complement).


  • If it rains, we will stay at home.
  • He will arrive late unless he hurries up.
  • Peter will buy a new car, if he gets his raise.

For more about the First Conditional, see the First Conditional Page


The Second Conditional

This conditional provides an imaginary result for a given situation.


  • If past simple, would + verb.
  • Would + verb if past simple.


  • If he studied more, he would pass the exam.
  • I would lower taxes if I were the President.
  • They would buy a new house if they had more money.

For more about the Second Conditional, see the Second Conditional Page


The Third Conditional

Used to express a hypothetical result to a past given situation.


  • If past perfect, would + have + past participle.
  • Would + have + past participle if past perfect.


  • If he had known that, he would have decided differently.
  • Jane would have found a new job if she had stayed in Boston

For more about the Third Conditional, see the Third Conditional Page

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CONDITIONALS – The First Conditional

The first conditional has the present simple after ‘if’, then the future simple in the other clause: if + present simple, will + base verb… Will + base verb if present simple. The First Conditional is a REAL and is used to talk about things which might happen in the future. If Sally is late again I will be mad. If it rains, I won’t …

CONDITIONALS – The Second Conditional

The Second Conditional uses if with the past simple, then ‘would’ and  the verb: if + past simple, …would + verb Would +verb if past simple   The Second Conditional is considered UNREAL and there are two reasons to use the Second Conditional. First, we can use it to talk about something in the future …

CONDITIONALS – The Third Conditional

We make the third conditional by using ‘if’ and past perfect then ‘would have’ and the past participle in the second part of the sentence: if + past perfect, would + have + past participle would + have + past participle if + past perfect The Third Conditional is UNREAL. It talks about the past. It’s used …

CONDITIONALS – The Zero Conditional

Every Conditional has two clauses: The conditional (if) clause, and the result clause. We make a zero conditional sentence using two simple present verbs: one in the ‘conditional clause’ and one in the ‘result clause’. If + present simple, present simple. Present simple if present simple. This conditional is used when the result always happens. …