English Grammar in Context – Tense Timelines, Mindmaps, Writing Tips, and More...
In the pages to follow, you will learn what conditionals are and how to use them in real-world situations. Our tables, charts and diagrams provide
What is the Conditional?
A condition is something which is required before something else - a result - can happen. This is why a conditional sentence has both a condition and a result. The speaker uses conditional forms to express their ideas on what they think might happen in the event of certain other conditions occurring.
The speaker chooses different grammar structures to form conditional sentences, to express how likely
There are three ways of expressing our understanding of certainty: General Truth, Possible, and Impossible. However, Possible can be broken down into two sub-categories - Likely and Unlikely - giving us 4 categories in total. Understanding these Degrees of Certainty and their associated patterns when forming sentences is the key to understanding and using Conditionals.
The colour-coding system used in Figure 1 will continue throughout this section, and will help you learn the patterns of structure and usage:
Fig. 1 Degree of Certainty Table
Degree of Certainty
|If you freeze water, it turns to ice||Sure (GREEN)||Express a General Truth/Habit|
|If you study hard, you will pass your exams||Express a Likely Event|
If you studie
|Unlikely (RED)||Express an Unlikely Event|
|If you had studied hard, you would have passed your exams||Impossible (BLUE)||Express an Impossible Event|
In Figure 2, you can see the movement of statements from Factual (General Truths) to Hypothetical (Impossible):
Fig. 2 From General Truths to Impossible Events