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Conditional sentences

Conditional sentences are formed by two clauses: a main clause and a subordinate clause (if-clause) which
expresses the condition necessary in order for the main clause to be fulfilled.

There are four main types of conditional sentences:

Zero conditional

The zero conditional is used to state simple facts which are always true.

IF-CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE


If + Simple Present Tense Simple Present Tense

e.g.:
If water boils, it evaporates
If you heat ice, it melts
If I go to bed early, I always feel better in the morning

In these cases if can be replaced by when without changing the meaning.

Conditional 1

The first conditional is used to talk about events or actions that may or may not happen, depending on
another event or action. It is used to refer to real or possible conditions in the present or the future.

IF-CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE


If + Simple Present Future Simple

e.g.:
If the patient still feels pain, I’ll give her another injection
If you don’t take your pills, you will never feel better
If it rains, we'll have the party indoors, but we'll have a barbecue in the garden if it's sunny

Possible variations:

a) if + simple present + modal verb

e.g.:
If you call Dr Bloomberg before nine, you can make an appointment with him
If you tidy your room, you can go to the party tonight.

b) if + simple present + imperative

e.g.:
If you see Nurse Mary, tell her that I’m looking for her
If John calls, tell him I'm busy

c) if + Present Continuous + future

e.g.:
If you are looking for John, you’ll find him in the Surgical Ward

d) if + Present Perfect + modal verb/future simple:

e.g.:
If you have finished with those X-rays, I'll take them to Dr Hanks
If you've done your homework, you can go to the cinema

Other phrases which mean the same as if can be used: as long as, provided that, on the condition that

I'll come to the party as long as you don't invite Michael


She'll come with us provided that you apologise.

Unless = if not

Unless it rains, we'll go to the beach on Sunday

Conditional 2

The second conditional is used to talk about events or situations that are not real, or are very unlikely to
happen or be fulfilled, in the present or the future.

IF-CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE


If + Simple Past Present Conditional

e.g.:
If I didn’t have a high temperature, I would go to work
If I were a doctor, I would like to work in an Emergency department
If I had a bit more time, I would go to the gym and get fit.
If he were rich, he would give up working.
If I didn't have so much work to do, I would take a holiday.

It is often used to give advice, with the expression: If I were you.

If I were you, I wouldn't do it.

Possible variation:
if + Past Continuous + Present Conditional:

e.g.:
If you weren’t moaning so much, I wouldn’t take you to the doctor
If you weren't complaining all the time, people would appreciate your company more

Conditional 3

The third conditional is used to talk about an event or a situation which could have become real in the past
if certain conditions had been fulfilled.

IF-CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE


If + Past Perfect Perfect Conditional

e.g.:
If I hadn’t called an ambulance, that woman would have died
If Nurse Emma hadn’t given that man the kiss of life, he wouldn’t have survived
If I had known about your visit, I would have come to meet you.

Possible variation:
if + past perfect continuous + perfect conditional

If he hadn't been driving so fast, the police would not have stopped him for speeding.
Mixed conditionals

Conditionals 2 and 3 can be found together

IF-CLAUSE MAIN CLAUSE


If + Past Perfect Present Conditional

e.g.:
If I had followed the doctor’s advice, I wouldn’t feel so terrible now

Inversion

We can also express a condition using inversion (or should + inversion):

If I had known about it, I wouldn’t have said anything.


Had I known about it, I wouldn’t have said anything.
If you see her, tell her I’m looking for her
Should you see her, tell her I’m looking for her.

Exercise: Turn the verbs in brackets into the correct form

1) If you don’t call for emergency medical assistance right now, Mary (be) in serious danger.
2) If I weren’t a nurse, I really (not/know) what other job I could do in my life.
3) Do you think that if I had that operation I (live) a better life?
4) If the accident (not/happen) in the middle of a heavy snowfall, it would have been easier to help the
injured.
5) If you (take) the antibiotics that the doctor prescribed, you would have recovered by now.
6) If a patient (suffer) from nosebleed, place him/her in a sitting position.
7) If Tim (not/tell) the doctor how to reach our house, he would have certainly got lost.
8) If you had listened carefully to the nurse you (understand) what to do.
9) What (you/do) if a patient’s heart stopped beating?
10) If you ask Nurse Jane, she (explain) it to you.
11) If you (know) the correct procedure, you wouldn’t do it.
12) If you (see) Dr Martins, tell him we have an emergency.
13) If you had told me to blow into his mouth, I (do) it.
14) If the doctor (arrive) earlier, he would have probably saved that man’s life.
15) Jim wouldn’t be in hospital now if he (not/drive) after drinking all those beers.
16) If she saw you, she (be) happy.
17) If she sees you, she (be) happy.
18) Do you think that if we climbed to the top of that hill we (get) a better view?
19) If they came, they (meet) my parents.
20) If it rains, we (get) wet.
21) If that policeman (not show) me the way I would have certainly got lost.
22) If you had had five minutes to spare at that time we (explain) the situation to you.
23) What (you / do) if you won a thousand pounds?
24) If Jane marries Paul, she (be) very happy.
25) If you (know) how serious the problem is you wouldn’t talk like that.
26) If you see Mary, (give) her my telephone number.
27) If she (tell) me where the boss was I would have contacted him.
28) Where (you / be) now if I hadn’t helped you in the past?
29) John will surely have fun if he (come) to the party.
30) If you (come) to the party tonight, you will meet our new neighbours
31) This bike is perfectly safe, as long as you (be) careful.
32) You will be late for your meeting unless you (leave) now.
33) I (phone) you if there is any problem with the arrangements.
34) If you (press) this button, the machine stops working.
35) Provided that you (pay) careful attention, you should have no problems.
36) I (start) my homework as soon as I get home.
37) If I eat chocolate, I always (put) on weight.
38) Unless you (take) notes, you will forget most of the lesson.
39) If I wake up very early, I (be) too sleepy to work well.

Transform the sentence given in a conditional sentence

1) I am not rich and I don't have a swimming-pool (If I ….......)


2) Helen found the house easily because she had a map.
3) John has no brothers and sisters, so he feels lonely sometimes.
4) I have a computer, so I can send e-mail messages to my friends.
5) I didn't listen to the instructions, and now I don't know how to do the exercise.
6) The government did nothing about unemployment, and now they are in danger of losing the election.
7) I wasn't paying attention to the traffic and I had an accident.
8) I forgot my brother's birthday, and he got upset.
9) I never watch the news, so I don't know what is going on in the world.
10) I was writing so fast that I made several careless mistakes.

Exercise: Correct the mistakes in the following sentences

1) If I had been pregnant I would stop smoking.


2) If Rob didn’t drive when he was so tired and sleepy he wouldn’t have had that accident.
3) If you don’t call your baby after your father’s name, he would surely resent.
4) If Nelly hadn’t drunk so much alcohol when she was pregnant, her baby probably hadn’t been born
premature.
5) The obstetrician probably wouldn’t have performed episiotomy if Sharon’s baby wasn’t so big.
6) If I had been older I would have the CVS test performed but I am only 25 years old and the
gynaecologist told me it is not necessary.
7) If the ambulance won’t arrive soon, the patient will be in serious danger.
8) What will you do if the tests performed showed that you cannot have babies?
9) I really don’t know what I would have done if the doctor didn’t give me something to relieve the pain.
10) If the anaesthetists hadn’t been on strike I would had had a peridural anaesthesia labour.