An Online Catalogue of English Grammar Exercises

Conditional Clauses - or 'if' clauses!

The form is not logical!

The meaning is not logical!

Never mind!

n.b. You can mix up the different clauses any way you want!

However there are clauses which have names:

1. 'Zero' because you just use the Simple Present Tense in both ideas e.g.
   'If you love dogs, you don't automatically love cats'.                                                     This construction is used to talk about truthful facts, if you like.

2. The 'First Conditional' or 'will condition' - as it can be called because the    'condition' isn't necessarily going to happen e.g.

  • (a) 'If you go out now, I'll never take you back.' (Here the speaker is uttering a threat!)
  • (b) 'If you come back, I will always love you' (This is a promise!)
  • (c) 'If you phone now, you will catch him before he leaves work!' (This is a prediction!)

    3. The 'Second conditional' or 'would condition' - uses the tense forms to express    imaginary meaning (hypothetical meaning). In the 'if' part you put the Simple Past    Tense Form (or an old variation of it) or Past Continuous Form e.g.

  • (a) 'If I were (or was) working as hard as you are, I would be exhausted'.
  • (b) 'If I had your money, I wouldn't need to work so hard!'
       You'll notice the speakers are talking about NOW! They are imagining the truth to be    different now.

    4. The 'Third Conditional' or 'would have + past participle' conditional - uses the    Past Perfect tense form to talk about things which could never happen because the    past is finished and you can't change it e.g.

  • (a) 'If my parents hadn't met on a railway station they wouldn't (or couldn't have) have got married.'
  • (b) 'If you had seen the murderer at the theatre, he would have had an alibi and he couldn't have been the murderer!
    n.b. 'unless' usually means 'if not' but not always!

    What you're doing here is talking about the past and

  • (a) speculating or
  • (b) criticising or
  • (c) wishing something was different! Whatever your feelings may be you can't change what happened!

    Practice Exercise:

    1. If you (verb: water)………the garden while I (be)…….. away the garden (verb+ negative: dry up)……!
    2. If you (go)…… teacher training college you (teach)…………. now.
    3. If President Bush (passive form of verb 'not be elected')……..,…. there (be)……a war?
    4. If you (verb: smoke)………too much, what (be)……the result?
    5. If I (be)……, I (leave)………….home ages ago.
    6. If they (can not use)………computers, why …..they (tell)….us?
    7. If I (not come)….to this country, I (be)………out of work by now.
    8. In the film, Cleopatra, the extras all shouted 'Liz' when Elizabeth Taylor arrived on her platform in the square. What….they….(should shout), if they…..(remember)?
    9. If I (be)…….there, I (know)…….. but I (not know)……..because I (not be)!
    10. If he (work)……. harder, he (earn)…. more money.

    1. If you water the garden while I'm away the garden won't dry up!
    2. If you'd gone to training college you would be teaching now.
    3. If President Bush hadn't been elected, would there have been a war?
    4. If you smoke too much, what is the result?
    5. If I were you, I would have left home ages ago.
    6. If they can't use computers why won't (don't) they tell us right now?
    7. If I hadn't come to this country I would be out of work by now.
    8. In the film, Cleopatra, the extras all shouted 'Liz' when Elizabeth Taylor arrived on her platform in the square. What should they have shouted, if they had remembered (or 'remembered')?
    9. If I'd been there, I would know, but I don't know because I wasn't!
    10. If he worked harder, he would earn more money. Or 'If he works harder, he will earn more money.') Or 'If he had worked harder, he would have earned more money'!)

    See the A- Z of English Grammar & Usage for the rules.

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