Types of Conditional Sentences | Conditional Sentence Structure

Types of Conditional Sentences in English Grammar

Conditional sentences play a crucial role in the English language, allowing us to express hypothetical situations, make predictions, and convey ideas that depend on certain conditions being met. These sentences are structured in various ways to communicate different degrees of possibility, probability, and certainty. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve deep into the world of conditional sentences, exploring their types, usage, and examples. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to construct and interpret conditional sentences.

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Conditional Sentence

Conditional sentences, also known as “if-then” sentences, are a fundamental part of English grammar. They are used to express a cause-and-effect relationship between two clauses. The first clause (the “if” clause) presents a condition or hypothetical situation, while the second clause (the “result” or “main” clause) presents the consequence that depends on the condition being met. Conditional sentences allow us to discuss events, actions, or outcomes that may or may not happen depending on specific conditions.


    • If you come, we shall welcome you.

“If you come” is the if-part and “we shall welcome you” is the main part.

    • If you come, we shall welcome you.
    • We shall welcome you if you come.

Types of Conditional Sentences

Conditional sentences can be categorized into four main types, each with its own structure and usage. These types are:

  • Zero Conditional
  • First Conditional
  • Second Conditional
  • Third Conditional

Let’s explore each of these types in detail.

Zero Conditional sentences

The Zero Conditional, also known as the “real conditional” or “factual conditional,” is used to express general truths, facts, and situations that are always true. It doesn’t refer to a specific time but rather to situations that are universally applicable.

Structure: If + present simple, …. present simple.


    • If people eat too much, they get fat.
    • If you touch a fire, you get burned.
    • People die if they don’t eat.
    • You get water if you mix hydrogen and oxygen.
    • Snakes bite if they are scared.
    • If babies are hungry, they cry.

First Conditional sentences

The First Conditional, also known as the “real conditional,” is used to express future possibilities and events that are likely to happen based on a specific condition being met. This type of conditional sentence is used for realistic or probable situations.

Structure: If + Present Simple and will + Infinitive


    • If it rains, I won’t go to the park.
    • If I study today, I’ll go to the party tonight.
    • If I have enough money, I’ll buy some new shoes.
    • She’ll be late if the train is
    • She’ll miss the bus if she doesn’t leave
    • If I see her, I’ll tell
    • I will stay home if it rains tomorrow.
    • I will be sad if my football team loses the match.

2nd Conditional sentences

The Second Conditional, also known as the “unreal conditional” or “hypothetical conditional,” is used to discuss hypothetical or unreal situations in the present or future. It expresses conditions that are unlikely or contrary to reality.

Structure: If + Past Simple and Would + Infinitives


    • If it rained, you would get wet.
    • You would get wet if it rained.
    • If you went to bed earlier you wouldn’t be so tired.
    • You wouldn’t be so tired if you went to bed earlier.
    • If she fell, she would hurt herself.
    • She would hurt herself if she fell.

3rd Conditional Sentences

The Third Conditional, also known as the “past unreal conditional,” is used to talk about hypothetical situations or events in the past. It expresses conditions that did not happen and their hypothetical consequences.

Structure: if + past perfect and would + have + past participle


  • If she had studied, she would have passed the exam (but, really we know she didn’t study and so she didn’t pass).
  • If I hadn’t eaten so much, I wouldn’t have felt sick (but I did eat a lot, and so I did feel sick).
  • If we had taken a taxi, we wouldn’t have missed the plane.
  • She wouldn’t have been tired if she had gone to bed earlier.
  • She would have become a teacher if she had gone to university.
  • He would have been on time for the interview if he had left the house at nine.

Mixed Conditional Sentences

In addition to the four main types of conditional sentences, there are also mixed conditional sentences. Mixed conditionals combine elements of different conditional types to express complex relationships between conditions and consequences.

First Conditional in the Past

This mixed conditional type combines the present result of a past condition. It is used to describe how a different past decision could have led to a different present situation.


  • If + Past Perfect, Would + Base Form of the Verb

Second Conditional in the Present

This mixed conditional type combines the unreal or hypothetical nature of the second conditional with a present result. It is used to discuss the potential consequences of an unreal situation in the present.


  • If + Past Simple, Would + Base Form of the Verb

Third Conditional in the Present

This mixed conditional type combines the unreal past condition of the third conditional with a present result. It is used to discuss the potential consequences of a different past decision on the current situation.


  • If + Past Perfect, Would + Base Form of the Verb

Common Mistakes to Avoid

While using conditional sentences, it’s easy to make common mistakes that can affect the accuracy and clarity of your communication. Here are some typical errors to watch out for:

  • Mixing Tenses

One common mistake is mixing tenses within a conditional sentence. Ensure that the tenses in both the “if” clause and the result clause match the intended meaning. For example, don’t use the past tense in the “if” clause and the present tense in the result clause unless you’re intentionally using a mixed conditional structure.

  • Omitting the Comma

Conditional sentences typically start with the “if” clause, and it’s essential to use a comma to separate the “if” clause from the result clause. Omitting the comma can lead to confusion or misinterpretation.

  • Overusing “Would”

While “would” is a common modal verb used in conditional sentences, overusing it can make your writing sound repetitive. Experiment with other modal verbs like “could,” “might,” or “should” to add variety and nuance to your sentences.

  • Neglecting Contractions

In casual speech and writing, contractions (e.g., “I’ll” instead of “I will,” “he’d” instead of “he would”) are commonly used in conditional sentences. Neglecting contractions can make your language sound overly formal or stilted in everyday conversation.

Conditional Sentences Exercises

  1. If they come we ——–be very happy indeed.
  2. The crop ——— be very fine if it rains.
  3. If she missed these classes she —— is in trouble.
  4. If I —— been present there I ——- have heard the news.
  5. ——— They visited us we —— have welcomed them.
  6. If the teacher ——- busy, we could not —— met her.
  7. If the weather ——- fine, we could ——- started on foot.
  8. She would (do) her work if she —– able to do so.
  9. If you ——— in my place, you too ———- in trouble.
  10. If I ———- there I would answer the questions.
  11. Ali could ——- written this essay if she —— gives a chance.
  12. Would I not ——— come if you —— asked me?
  13. Could I solve this problem if I ———– asked?
  14. Could you build a big house if you ———– rich?
  15. Would you not have ——— more satisfied if you ———– poorer?
  16. They would ——— helped him if they —– seen him in trouble.
  17. ——— You buy this book, read it very carefully.
  18. We shall all be in much trouble ——— war break out next week.
  19. You should not ——— buy this worthless watch.
  20. If I had ———— enough knowledge, I would ——– done my papers well.

Conditional Conjunctions Examples

  • Even if
  • If
  • If only
  • Before
  • Once
  • Assuming
  • Only if
  • On the condition that
  • Provided
  • Whenever
  • Whether
  • Providing
  • Since
  • Therefore
  • Unless
  • When
  • Because
  • Until
  • But for
  • Yet
  • After
  • As a consequence of
  • As a result of
  • As long as
  • As soon as
  • Wherever

Types of Conditional Sentences in English Grammar

Types of Conditional Sentences in English Grammar

Types of Conditional Sentences in English Grammar

conditional sentence

conditional sentence

conditional sentence

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