Grammar boost: Conditionals cheat sheet PART 1
Conditional sentences are very useful in both the spoken and written language. Their structures are not that hard, since they are just combinations of basic English verb forms. The trick is knowing how to combine the tenses, and when to use which conditional. Conditional sentences take your English up a notch, improving your performance on everything from standardized exams to casual conversation.
Here is a very brief summary of conditionals in English. The examples are all in the affirmative, but could just as easily be in the negative or mixed. Feel free to try your hand at writing your own conditional sentences.
Note that “to train” can be used transitively or intransitively (as below). Note that “to win” has the past form “won.”
Zero conditional — present real — generally true now:
If John trains hard, he (usually) wins.
1st conditional — future real — a condition that can be fulfilled in the future:
If John trains hard (enough), he will win (next week).
2nd conditional — present unreal — a condition that is not real in the present, or that does not seem probable in the future.
If John trained hard (but he doesn’t), he would win (but he doesn’t or won’t).
3rd conditional — past unreal — a condition that was not fulfilled in the past. Note that, in the universe we live in, it is physically impossible to change the past ;)
If John had trained hard (but he did not), he would have won (but he did not).
Note that mixed conditionals also exist, for example:
3rd and 2nd:
If John had trained hard (but he didn’t), he would be a winner today (but he isn’t).
2nd and 3rd (this may seem a bit illogical, but language doesn’t always have to be logical):
If John weren’t so lazy (but he is), he would have trained hard (but he didn’t) and (would have) won the competition (but he didn’t).
Feel free to post your own conditional sentences, and we’ll see how well you do!