Conditional sentences

Conditional sentence is a type of sentence that states a condition and the outcome of the condition occurring. They are made up of dependent and an independent clause which are joined to express the said condition. It always starts with an “if” and some of these clauses might begin with “when”. For example:

  • If I save enough, I can go on a vacation.

Here the dependent clause is “if I save enough” and the independent clause is “I can go on a vacation.”


  • Zero Conditional

A Zero Conditional sentence is a sentence that expresses a fact or simple suggestion. The dependent clause in the sentence begins with “if” or “when” and the independent clause begins with the simple present verb tense or the imperative verb tense. For example:

  • If you stare at the sun, your eyes get damaged.
  • If it rains, things get wet.

Zero conditional sentences express conditions that are always true and the conclusions of which can be drawn from their premises.

  • First Conditional

First conditional sentence expresses an idea which might happen at some point in the future. The dependent clause in the sentence of first conditional begins with “if” and uses the simple present tense whereas the independent clause uses “will” and the base form of the verb. For instance;

  • If I am out for lunch, Maria will answer the calls.
  • If it rains, I will not play outside.

These sentences can refer to either present or future time.

  • Second Conditional

Second conditional sentence is a sentence that expresses two ideas. At first, it might express things in the future that are unlikely to happen. Secondly, it expresses an idea that is not true because it is impossible.  For example:

  • If I knew the answer, I would tell you.
  • If I were the president, I would fix the system.

The dependent clause in the sentence starts with “if” and implies the past simple tense, however, the independent clause uses “would” and the base form of a verb.

  • Third Conditional

Third conditional sentence is used to express a past idea that did not occur. The dependent clause in a sentence starts with “if” and utilizes the past perfect tense. On the other hand, the independent clause in the third conditional sentence uses “would” and the past participle of a verb. Examples of third conditional sentence are:

  • If he had gone to lunch, you would have answered his calls.
  • I would have wrapped his present if he had left.

In the end, the third conditional sentences refer to the past.