Inglés

Describing situations of cause and effect

Conditionals

Conditionals are sentences that express causes and their results. You can use conditional sentences with if to talk about causes and results.

If is a conjunction used to say that one thing can, will or might happen or be true depending on another thing happening or being true.

The two situations, causes and results, can come in any order. In written English when the conditional part, the cause, comes first, you put a comma between this part and the result part.

Commas with Conditional Sentences

Use a comma when the if part of the sentence is at beginning.

Example: If I go to school, I have to get up early.
Don’t use a comma when the if part of the sentence is at the end.

Example: I have to get up early if I go to school.
There are many different ways of making sentences with if. One of them is the zero conditional.

Zero conditional

We use the Zero conditional to talk about things or to express ideas that are generally or always true. They represent situations that are unchanging.

Because of their unchanging truth value, these conditional sentences normally take a present simple tense in both parts of the sentence. They are especially frequent in scientific writing, since Science is concerned with absolute relationships.

Example: If you mix oil with water, it floats.

This kind of sentences has two parts:

Part A: is the situation or condition (the If clause).
Part B: is the result or consequence (the result clause).

You have to write a comma (,) between the two parts of the sentence when you begin with If.

Use the present simple tense in both clauses.

Example: If you put water in the freezer, it becomes ice.

These sentences are based on habits and are frequent in conversations.

Example: If I wash the dishes, my daughter dries them.

It is possible to substitute When or Whenever for If and still express more or less the same idea:

Example: When (whenever) I wash the dishes, my daughter dries them.

When (whenever) you boil water, it vaporizes.

Zero conditional sentences express no condition; these are sentences that are always true. They refer to “forever”.

Example: If you add two plus two, you get four.

The following circles will show you how to form the zero conditional sentences and the elements each part of the sentence has.

Description of the elements of the zero conditional sentences

Example: If you put water in the freezer, it becomes ice.

How to form the zero conditional sentences:

  • Part A, The If clause: If you put water in the freezer.
  • Part B, The result clause: It becomes ice.

The following grammar box shows grammatical rules to make sentences with the if – zero conditional sentences. It includes the affirmative, negative and interrogative form. You can find some examples too.

More examples. Affirmative sentences.

More examples. Negative sentences.

More examples. Interrogative sentences.

When we talk about things that are generally or always true, we can use.

If / When / Unless + a present form + present simple or imperative.

If is used when a situation is real or possible, in this case we can replace “if” by “when” without changing the meaning of the sentences.

Example: If your father gets there before me, ask him to wait.

When is a conjunction that means at or during the time that something happen.

Example: When you take a plane, you arrive faster to your destination.

Unless is used to say that something can only happen or be true in a particular situation.

Can be used instead of if + not in conditional sentences.

Example: Unless you pay the ticket, you can’t go to the cinema with us.

WH question words

We use question words to ask certain types of questions. We refer to them as WH, words because they include the letters WH (for example, WHy, How).

The following grammar box shows some very useful question words, their use and some examples.

We can use question words with zero conditional sentences. They usually go at the beginning of the sentence.

Vocabulary

Learning vocabulary is important because without enough vocabulary you cannot understand others or express your own ideas. Learning vocabulary helps you communicate and understand with others in English. For that reason, it is important that you continue learning new words and increase your vocabulary in English.

More conditional sentences

Previously, you learned that conditionals are sentences that express situations and their results and that you can use conditional sentences with If to talk about causes and results. You have already studied the zero conditional sentences that express ideas that are generally or always true.

Now, you will learn:

First conditional sentence

We use the First conditional sentences to talk about actions that are very probable, they express future conditional. It is the “real” or “possible” conditional.

Example: If it rains, I will stay home.

The normal pattern for this type of conditional is present simple tense in the If clause and some explicit indication of future time (e.g. will or be going to) in the result clause.

Example: If you finish your homework, I’m going to invite you to the park.

This kind of sentence has two parts:

Part A: is the situation or condition (the If clause).
Part B: is the result or consequence (the result clause).

You have to write a comma (,) between the two parts, unless you change the order of the parts.

Example: I will stay home if it rains.

Use the present simple tense in the If clauses and will or be going to in the result clause.

How to form the first conditional sentences

Example: If it rains, I will stay home.

Part A: The if clause: If it rains.
Part B: The result clause: I will stay home.

The following circles summarize how to form the first conditional sentences and the elements each part of the sentence has.

First conditional

a. We use the first conditional sentences to talk about future events that are likely to happen. Example:

  • If Linvite my gitriend, she will be really happy;
  • If finish high school, | will go to University.

b. The if clause can be used with different present forms. Example:

  • If he’s feeling better, he will come to the meeting.

c. The “future clause” can contain going to as well as will. Example:

  • If see her, I’m going to tell her to give me my book.
  • If Martin keeps practicing football, he’s going to play in the school team,

d. The “future clause” can also contain other modal verbs such as can and must, Example:

  • Ifyou go to New York, you must visit the Statue of Liberty.

‘The following grammar box shows grammatical rules to make sentences with the if first conditional sentences. It includes the affirmative, negative and interrogative form.

You can find some examples too.

Modals of possibility (may /might) and advice (should)

We can use modals other than will in the main clause of a sentence in the first conditional.

This means that the consequence is not certain. It is possible, but not definite.

Examples: If my father comes tomorrow, I might go home early, or

I may go swimming
I’ll ask my friend if we change the meeting

If you ask Peter, he may/might be able o buy the vegetables. (Possibilty)

If you ever go to Tabasco, you should take a trip to the coast. (Advice)

If you don’t understand so well, you should ask your teacher again. (Advice)

Possible variations of the basic form:

Look at the next examples:

Fuente: Secretaría de Educación Pública. (2015). Lengua adicional al español III. Ciudad de México.