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Conditional Sentences

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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If you are paving your path to learn better English or trying to improve your grammar you must have come across the conditional sentences. You might get an idea of what a conditional sentence is by just looking at its name but there is more to it. In this article, we will explain in detail all that you have to know about conditional sentences.

A conditional sentence is also sometimes referred to as a conditional clause or an if clause.

By definition, a conditional sentence is made of two or more clauses in which one clause describes the action and the other clause describes the condition. The first clause which describes the action that is to take place is known as the main clause, whereas, the other clause in which the condition required to take that action is described is called the if clause or clause with if.

In other words, a conditional sentence would tell you about something that is happening or is going to happen only if certain condition/s are met.

Example:

If he finds her number, he will give her a call.

The above sentence is the simplest form of a conditional sentence also known as Type 1. Take a look at the sentence again and you will notice that it consist of two clauses one describing the action and the other describing the condition. The main clause is he will give her a call (the action he will take) and the if clause is if he finds her number (if this condition is met).

There are three different types of conditional sentences depending on the likeliness of the fulfillment of the condition described in if clause.

Type 1:

The first and simplest type of conditional sentences is in which the likeliness of the fulfillment of the condition is very high. In this type of sentences, the tense used is simple present and simple future (will).

Example:

I will rebuild the structure if it falls apart.

The example shows a main clause and an if clause with simple present (falls) and future (will build) tenses which makes the probability of the condition fulfillment and the action occurring very high.

Type 2:

The second form of conditional sentences is in which the probability of the fulfillment of condition mentioned is not as high as in type 1 but it is still possible. The tenses used in these sentences are simple past and future (would).

Example:

If Amber had the money, she would buy a house.

 The example clearly shows that main clause used future infinitive (would) and the if clause used past tense (had). This combination of tenses makes the likeliness of Amber buying a house very less.

Type 3:

The third type of conditional sentences is the one which has zero or no possibility of the condition to be fulfilled and the reason behind that is that the action described is of the past. It makes use of past perfect and future (would have-past participle).

Example:

If I were in your situation, I would have called him.

This example refers to the third type of conditional sentence which describes the probability of the action occurring is zero because the action has already taken place in the past. Notice that the main clause uses past participle (would have) and if clause uses past perfect (were).

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