Learn English Grammar: The 4 Conditionals
Hello, I'm Gill at www.engvid.com and today's lesson is on the four conditional tenses, okay?
So, you may already be familiar with this, the zero conditional, first conditional, second
conditional, third conditional okay?
And they all have a slightly different way of being constructed, the way you put them
together with different tenses, okay.
So, let's just run through them and, hopefully, as you can see all four on the board together,
you can see he differences between them.
Okay, so let's look at the zero conditional, which is the simplest one, really, and this
is for statements which are true in general, they're generally true.
So, for example: The TV comes on if you press the button.
Press the button, either on the TV or on the remote and the TV comes on.
So - and also, the word "if" is used in all of these, all of these conditionals, "if"
If you do something, then something else will happen.
So, the TV comes on if you press the button, and you can put "if" either in the middle
of the sentence or at the beginning of the sentence.
So, you could also say "If you press the button, the TV comes on."
It doesn't usually matter which order you put them in.
So, here's another example: If you heat water to 100° C, it boils.
The water boils, if you heat water, okay?
So, these sentences are made up of two clauses, there's the "if" clause and there's the main clause.
The main clause there is "the TV comes on" and then the "if" clause, which is also called
a subordinate clause, comes there, "if you press the button".
This one, we start with the "if" clause, "If you heat water to 100° C" and then the main
clause, "it boils", the water boils, that's the main clause.
So, the sentences are made up of two clauses joined together with "if" somehow, whether
it's at the beginning or in the middle, and for both clauses, you use the present simple tense.
It boils, you heat, you press, the TV comes on.
That's all present simple tense for zero conditional, okay?
Things that are true in general.
So, let's move onto the first conditional and these are things which are sort of real,
real things in real life, things which are possible, things that you feel are possible,
so: If I see her, I will tell her.
If you see your friend, you have something to tell her.
So, if I see her, I will tell her.
So again, we have "if" and "I see" is present simple and then "I will", because this is
possible, it's not happening now, it could happen in the future, if I see her maybe later
today or tomorrow, I will tell her.
So then "will", you're using the future there.
So, will + the verb, I will tell her.
So, it's present simple for the "if" clause and future for the main clause.
I will tell her if I see her, you can say it that way around, okay?
And then another one: I will go shopping on the way home if I have time.
Okay, so maybe you're going out to work and then you're coming home from work and if you
have - if I have time on the way home from work, I will go shopping.
Okay, so, I will - future, main clause.
If I have time - I have, present simple, okay.
So, that is a kind of intention.
You're saying "Yes, I will do that if I have time".
So, it's a real situation, it's something that's quite possible.
And then we're getting further and further away now with the second conditional to what's
possible, because this second conditional is if it's impossible or unlikely, so if something
is likely to happen, it will probably happen.
And if something is unlikely, that's the negative prefix, that's unlikely, so that's not probably
So, it's either impossible or probably not going to happen, unlikely.
So, let's have a look at the examples here.
So, we still have "if": If I won a lot of money I would buy a big house.
And again, you can turn it round: I would buy a big house if I won a lot of money.
It doesn't matter which way round you put it, it means the same.
And here: If I had his number, I would call him.
But it means I don't have his number, so I can't call him.
So, if I had his number, I would call him, but I have no idea what his number is or how
So, the tenses here are the past simple: if I won, that's the past tense of "to win",
So, if I won a lot of money, that's the past simple, I would buy, so it's would + the verb,
So, the "if" clause has the past simple, the main clause has would + the verb, the base
And then: If I had his number, past simple, "I had", the verb "to have", past tense, "had",
so "If I had his number, I would call him."
So, would + the base verb "to call", I would call him if I had his number.
It's a bit strange to use the past tense because these are things that could never happen,
possibly, they might never happen, so it might seem strange to use the past tense for that,
but that's just the way that the grammar works.
So, we've got further and further away from reality and possibility, and then finally,
with the third conditional, the last one, this is where it's too late to do anything.
Something happened in the past.
You could have done something, but you have missed the opportunity and you can't do it now.
So, let's have a look at the examples: I would have lost weight - if you're on a diet, you're
trying to lose some weight - I would have lost weight if I hadn't eaten so much.
It's fairly obvious if you keep eating and you're on a diet, you're never going to lose
So, it's an obvious statement but it's the third conditional.
It's too late now to lose - of course, in the future, you can try again, you can keep
trying, but at this point in time, you have not lost weight on your diet because you have
So, I would have lost weight if I had not eaten so much.
And then this example: If - again - If I had gone to bed earlier, I would have woken up
Okay, so we've got some quite complex tenses going on there.
So, we've got the past perfect, so with the "if" clause, no, not with the "if" clause,
yes, the past perfect, yes, "if I had not eaten" is the past perfect, sorry, I get confused
"If I had not eaten", so had + eaten is the past perfect.
If you say, "I have eaten", that's the present perfect, okay, but this is the past perfect.
So, that's the past perfect with the "if" clause, okay.
And then the other part, the main clause has would have + the past participle, so "I would
have lost", would have and then lost is the past participle of the verb "to lose", okay.
And then the second example: If I had gone - past perfect, if you say, "I have gone"
with the V in "have", "I have gone", that's the present perfect.
If you have the past perfect, it's "had gone", had gone, past perfect.
"If I had gone to bed earlier, I would have woken up", so "to wake", the verb "to wake",
when you wake up in the morning, if the alarm clock goes or if you just wake up naturally,
"I would have woken up in time to catch the train".
So, that's the most complex construction, the third conditional.
But this is - it's quite a complex idea as well, that you missed an opportunity.
If you - if I had gone to bed earlier, I would have had more sleep and it would have been
easier to wake up and then I could get up and get out and catch the train.
So, I hope that helps to show how these four conditionals work and then in the second part
of the lesson, I have a little test for you for you to fill in some gaps.
Okay, so let's have a look at some sentences with some gaps in them and let's see which
conditionals fit in those gaps.
So, we have four sentences, there are four conditional tenses, so one of those goes in each.
So, let's have a look at the sentences first and then we'll go back over it.
So, here's the first one: If you didn't smoke - cigarettes - if you didn't smoke, you ________
And then the next one: If it's sunny tomorrow we _____ go to the beach.
Next one: If she had gone to university, she _____ _____ found a really good job.
And then finally: If it snows, travelling _____ more difficult.
And a form of the verb "to be" goes in that gap, okay.
So, you can probably see immediately they're not in this order.
I have deliberately put them in a different order so that you don't know which one is
If you didn't smoke, you _____ feel a lot better.
So, this is someone who does smoke, and you're giving them advice.
What would it be like if they didn't smoke, okay?
If you didn't smoke, you - so what's the missing word here, and which conditional is it?
So, that's quite a move away from the reality of the situation.
It - for someone who does smoke now, if they stop smoking, that's possible, but what are
the chances of someone stopping smoking?
So, if you didn't smoke you would feel a lot better.
So, which conditional do you think that is?
So, it's the second, that's the second conditional, using did, past tense, past simple, and then
would + a verb, would feel, okay?
Next one: If it's sunny tomorrow, we _____ go to the beach.
So tomorrow is in the future, so there's a clue.
If it's sunny tomorrow, we - what's the future tense, what's the verb you always use with
the future, the auxiliary verb?
So, the future tense, "we will go the beach if it is" - so present simple there, but it's
about the future - "If it is sunny tomorrow, we will go to the beach".
It's not two, obviously - which of the remaining ones would you say that is?
It's the first conditional, okay?
If she had gone to university, she _____ _____ found a really good job.
So, that's quite a complex construction.
If she had gone, so "had gone" is past perfect, okay?
She _____ _____ - so this means she didn't go to university.
So, she probably hasn't found a good job.
So, does that mean it's too late now?
Is it the one where it's too late?
So, if she had gone to university, she - do you remember what to put here?
She would have, would have, she would have found a really good job if she had gone to
So, in a way, it's never too late to go to university within reason, but it's too late
So, okay, so that's the most complicated one, the third, the third conditional.
So, finally then, the last one, and this is the simplest one: If it snows - snows, present
simple - travelling ____ more difficult.
And this is the verb "to be" here, travelling, you're saying travelling ____ more difficult
in the present simple of the verb "to be", travelling is, so travelling is more difficult
if it snows, which is a general, usually true statement.
So, we only have one conditional left, the zero, so that's the zero conditional at the
Okay, so I hope that's been a useful overview of the four conditional tenses and clarified
So, if you'd like to go the website www.engvid.com, there's a quiz there where you can test
out your knowledge further, and thank you very much for watching and see you again soon.