The Conditionals: rules and exercises

conditionals, grammar and exercises, brightonThe conditionals, sometimes called ‘if clauses’, are constructions in English used to discuss something that could happen in the future, or was possible but did not happen in the past. They can be difficult to learn because they are so similar but have very specific, different uses. Their specific uses are:

The Zero Conditional:

For general rules and principles.

(If + present simple, present simple)

If you heat water, it boils.

The First Conditional:

For future possibilities and more specific rules.

(if + present simple, will + bare infinitive)

If it rains at the weekend, the game will be cancelled.

If you teach them English, they will learn.

The Second Conditional:

For imagined possibilities.

(if + past simple, would + bare infinitive)

If I won the lottery, I would buy a new house.

The Third Conditional:

For past possibilities that did not happen.

(if + past perfect, would + have + past participle)

If I had visited Brighton, I would have caught the train.

When forming conditionals, the ‘if clause’ or the dependent clause can come first. If the dependent clause comes first, we do not use a comma. For example:

If we go now, we will catch the train.

We will catch the train if we go now.

Or, to revise the rule:

We do not use a comma if the dependent clause comes first.

Conditionals are also one of many grammar points in English that foreign learners of English have to learn more about than native speakers. Ask a common English speaker what the conditionals are and, even though they may use them every day, they will not be able to explain it in grammatical terms.

Conditionals exercise 1

Complete the following sentences with your own ideas, choosing the correct conditional:

  1. If you go to the cinema,
  2. If I had revised more for the exam,
  3. If it snows tomorrow,
  4. If I bought that car,
  5. If I lived by the sea,
  6. If they had known about the bomb,
  7. If you drink too much,
  8. If you feed pigeons rice,
  9. If we do business with the Japanese,
  10. If people drink too much,
  11. If I study for one hour every night,
  12. If the report was more accurate,

Conditionals Exercise 2

Complete the following sentences with your own ‘if clause’, choosing the correct conditional:

  1. We will miss our train…
  2. He would drink all day…
  3. They would have liked the film…
  4. People get sunburnt…
  5. They would have caught the thief…
  6. Brighton will be busy…
  7. No one will go to the play…
  8. I would travel to France…
  9. Jane would have passed the exam…
  10. We will get soaked…
  11. Our neighbours will call the police…
  12. We would visit the beach…

Conditionals Exercise 1 – Possible Answers

Complete the following sentences with your own ideas, choosing the correct conditional:

  1. If you go to the cinema, you will have fun. (First conditional)
  2. If I had revised more for the exam, I would have passed. (Third conditional)
  3. If it snows tomorrow, I will make a snowman. (First conditional)
  4. If I bought that car, I would drive fast. (Second conditional)
  5. If I lived by the sea, I would swim every day. (Second conditional)
  6. If they had known about the bomb, they would have run away. (Third conditional)
  7. If you drink too much, you will have hangover. (First conditional)
  8. If you feed pigeons rice, they explode. (Zero conditional)
  9. If we do business with the Japanese, we will be successful. (First conditional)
  10. If people drink too much, they get ill. (Zero conditional)
  11. If I study for one hour every night, I will be a genius. (First conditional)
  12. If the report was more accurate, we would have got the account. (Third conditional)

 

Conditionals Exercise 2 – Possible Answers

Complete the following sentences with your own ‘if clause’, choosing the correct conditional:

  1. We will miss our train if we don’t hurry. (First conditional)
  2. He would drink all day if you let him. (Second conditional)
  3. They would have liked the film if they had paid more attention. (Third conditional)
  4. People get sunburnt if they spend too long in the sun. (Zero conditional)
  5. They would have caught the thief if they had run faster. (Third conditional)
  6. Brighton will be busy if it is sunny for the Fringe Festival. (First conditional)
  7. No one will go to the play if it gets bad reviews. (First conditional)
  8. I would travel to France if I had more money. (Second conditional)
  9. Jane would have passed the exam if she had studied harder. (Third conditional)
  10. We will get soaked if it rains. (First conditional)
  11. Our neighbours will call the police if you don’t shut up. (First conditional)
  12. We would visit the beach if it was sunny. (Second conditional)

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