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University of VictoriaIntroduction to IT English
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Conditional Tense

Definition

Conditional sentences show a cause-and-effect relationship between actions.

Example

If my CDs arrive in the mail tomorrow, I will listen to my new music.

Explanation

Conditional sentences —

  • have two parts: a cause and a result (the cause and the result both have a subject and a verb).
  • separate the cause and the result with a comma (,).
  • express possibility.
  • express situations that are always true in the present (zero conditional).
  • express situations that are true in the future (first conditional).
  • express situations that are possible in the future (second conditional).
  • express situations that are impossible in the past (third conditional).
  • have patterns for expressing the types of conditional sentences:
    • If + subject + present tense verb, subject + present tense verb = zero conditional.
    • If + subject + present tense verb, subject + will + verb = first conditional.
    • If + subject + past tense verb, subject + would + verb = second conditional.
    • If + subject + past perfect verb, subject + would + present perfect = third conditional.