Sometimes English grammar can be really difficult to understand. There are some rules in English grammar that don’t sometimes apply and there are some exceptions, but there are also some grammatical structures in English that follow every rule and the structure of conditional sentences clearly and is nice and clear to understand and makes it a lot easier and clear to understand. We use them to explain what could happen? What happens? What we wish would happen? (Picture completely different outcome for the present circumstances) or what might have happened? (Think about a couple of different results and compare it with the past)
Conditional sentences have four types. They all look the same, but they are different example let’s say
If I feel pain again, I will go to the doctor.
If I feel pain again, I go to the doctor.
If they had the time, they would have attended the meeting..
So which sentences are the same and which are different? All the above examples have two clauses, every two parts in the sentence are separated by a “comma” and all sentences use the conjunction “if” (Conjunction is used to combine two ideas in a sentence.)
I ate three bananas and one apple
I like it, but I don’t want to eat it now.
I will do buy you a sandwich from the store if you give me a good massage.
The words and, but, if are very small grammatical words, but they have a very important key function in these sentences. They joined two sentences and made it a meaningful sentence.
We have two clauses in all conditional sentences “If clause” and “Result clause”.
- If the clause is the circumstance or event that happened and initiated a response for the next thing to happen and this response is called a result and that is why we call it a conditional sentence.
- A condition is a circumstance that you have to do and can initiate a response for something else to happen for example you can’t get a degree without going to college. Now focus on these two words ‘college’ and ‘degree’ you can’t get one thing without the help of other things and these two things rely on one another.
The examples below are very similar. Keep an eye on the verbs in the sentences. This where the main differences in these conditional sentences are.
First Condition: If I feel pain again, I go to the doctor.
Second Condition: If he had more time, he would learn karate.
Third Condition: If I felt pain, I would go to the doctor.
Fourth Condition: if they have the time, they would have attended the meeting..
We have divided each sentence into four conditional sentences. Please try to focus on every condition.
The first condition is known as a factual condition. “If I feel pain again, I will go to the doctor”. Here both clauses are in present simple tense and this first condition is the easiest among all. “If + present simple tense, present simple tense”. We have the “If” clause now if clause which is used with the present simple tense and with the result clause we also use the present simple tense. So if something happens, then this is what going to happen with that something. We use the first condition to talk about habits, facts, and truths. Remember the first condition is not about the possibility it’s about the fact.
In this second condition, we are going to talk about possibilities and future results. “If he had more time, he would learn karate.” So there is a possibility that in the future I’m going to feel pain and if that happens, there is a possibility that I will go to the doctor. So we use “If + Present Simple Tense, will + Verb infinitive”. Another example is, if it’s hot tomorrow, I will probably stay at my house. I’m saying this because I’m not sure what going to happen tomorrow. That means you aren’t sure that you are going for a swim or not.
We use this third condition once we wish to imagine the present scenario that is total. So If I felt pain, I would go to the doctor. This is often theoretical. It’s not real. I’m picturing this scenario differently for a few reasons, I’m picturing the idea that I’m in pain. Now the question that you might have is ‘am I going to the doctor’? Nah! Because actually I’m not in pain and this is an unreal circumstance. The structure of the third conditional sentence is “If + Past Simple, would + Verb Infinitive”. So we use the model word verb to show that we are picture the result.
Remember that in English, verbs that follow model verbs are written or spoken in the infinitive form. If I say that if I had more money, I would buy a new laptop for myself. Contractions are a natural part of conditional sentences and are used in conditional sentences very commonly. When you are speaking naturally, if I had more money, I had to buy a new laptop. Words like “you had, they had, and I had. This pronunciation very common in spoken English and is used very frequently. Third conditional sentences can be used in several ways we can use them to provide a recommendation, provide reasons.
This fourth condition is past unreal conditional if they have the time, they would have attended the meeting. We use this structure to picture a different past that is different from the one that already happened. The structure is “If + Past perfect would have + Past Participle”. Simply to be clear the if clause did not actually happen, but I’m picturing the result as if the past was altogether totally different. So in this circumstance, was I really in pain? No! I’m not talking about what actually happened, I’m actually talking about what could have happened in the past but didn’t and what I would have done if that had happened.