Conditional forms: math formulas with words

Monday, November 12, 2012

I like to think of the conditional forms in English as math formulas using words instead of numbers. Sentences are structured in a particular way every time, consisting of two clauses, an "if" clause and a main clause.

"Condition" means "situation or circumstance". If a particular condition is true, then a particular result happens.

For example, the first conditional is for things that are possible or for offers, suggestions, warnings and threats. Here is the word formula:

The "if" clause = present simple verb, the main clause = will + main/base verb

If we hurry (present simple), we will + see the beginning of the movie.
If it rains (present simple) tomorrow, I will + bring my umbrella.
If you don't study (present simple), you will + fail the exam.

You can also reverse the sentence order. If the "if" clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the "if" clause comes second, there is no need for a comma:

We will see the beginning of the movie if we hurry.
I will bring my umbrella if it rains tomorrow.
You will fail the exam if you don't study.

First conditional formula: (present tense verb / "will" + main verb)

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