In this week's episode of Everyday Grammar, we are going
to talk about conditionals. We use conditionals to show that something
is true only when something else is true. Conditionals offer endless possibilities
for creative and imaginative expression.
Present real conditional
The present real conditional is the most basic kind
of conditional. Basically, when A happens, B happens.
Here's an example of a present real conditional:
"If it rains, I bring an umbrella."
Conditionals have two parts: the if clause:
"if it rains," and the result clause: "I bring an umbrella."
You could also say "I bring an umbrella if it rains."
Poets and songwriters often use conditionals in their work.
Listen for the present real conditional in this song by American songwriter Bob
"If you see her, say hello. She might be in Tangier"
Notice that the verbs see and say are both
in the present tense for the present real conditional.
Present unreal conditional
The next conditional that we're going to talk about is
the present unreal conditional. Use the present unreal conditional to talk
about what you would do in an unreal, or imaginary situation. If A happened,
B would happen. For example, "If I were you, I would take the job."
The key word is would; it makes the conditional unreal. Would can
only be used in the result clause of the sentence. Here's an example
from American singer Johnny Cash.
"If I were a carpenter
And you were a lady
Would you marry me anyway?
Would you have my baby?"
To form a present unreal conditional, use a simple past
verb in the if clause. In the result clause, use would followed
by a simple present verb.
Use the verb were for all nouns in the if
clause of the sentence. For example, "If she were an animal, she would
be a cat." In informal speech, people might say, "If she was an
animal, she would be a cat." But you should avoid this in formal writing.
Future real conditional
Now let's talk about the future real conditional. If
A happens, B will happen. To make a future real conditional, use will
in the result clause. For example, "If your plane is late, I will wait
in the car." Use the future real conditional to talk about possible situations
in the future.
Speakers sometimes use the future real conditional to threaten
others. Listen to actor Liam Neeson in the 2013 movie Taken. In this scene
of the movie, Neeson's character is on the phone threatening the man who kidnapped
"If you let my daughter go now, that'll be the end
of it. I will not look for you. I will not pursue you. But if you don't, I will
look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you."
This is only a quick introduction to conditionals. In
a future episode of Everyday Grammar, we will talk about past and mixed conditionals.
Until then, we will leave you with country music stars Johnny Cash and June Carter.
"If you were a carpenter
And I were a lady
I'd marry you anyway
I'd have your baby"
REFERENCE – Three common conditionals (incomplete list)
If you see her,
If I were you,
I would leave.
Would + simple present
If your plane is late,
I will wait for you.