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Zero, 1st, 2nd and 3rd conditionals. Summary.

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1. We use Zero conditional sentences to talk about absolute facts, habitual actions, or scientific phenomenaThe time is present in both clauses. The situation is real.

If you light a match, it burns.
My roommate always cooks if I don’t have time.

How to structure?
If + present simple, verb in present simple.

 

if

2. We use 1st conditional sentences to talk about a possible situation in the present or future.

If I study hard, I will pass my exam.
If I have time, I will cook tonight.

How to structure?
If + present tense, will/can/may (not) + infinitive.

3. We use 2nd conditional sentences to talk about a hypothetical or improbable situation in the present or future, although the tense is past simple.

If I had enough money, I would buy a car. (=I don’t have enough money, so it’s impossible to buy a car.)

How to structure?
If + past tense, would/could/might (not) + infinitive.

4. We use 3rd conditional sentences to talk about a hypothetical past situation and its consequence. The tense is past perfect.

If I had met John Lennon, I would have asked him about his song. (=I didn’t meet John Lennon in the past so I didn’t to talk to him.)

How to structure?
If + past perfect (continuous), would/could/might (not) have + past participle.

2nd or 3rd conditional?

Hypothetical situation in the present or future - - -> 2nd conditional.
Hypothetical situation in the past - - - > 3rd conditional.

1. If you studied more, you would probably pass the exam.
2. If you had studied more, you would probably have passed the exam.
1 = You don’t study enough. It’s unlikely that you pass the exam. You can change it.
2 = You didn’t study enough in the past and so you failed the exam. You cannot change it.

Garfield-Type-Conditionals