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A conditional sentence has a dependent if-clause and an independent result-clause. Conditional sentences can be used to express possible, real, cause (condition) and effect (result) relationships OR hypothetical (imaginary, not real) situations.


Cause-and-effect relationship

If the student

passes the test,

he will

be happy.





The student will

be happy

if he

passes the test.






Hypothetical situation

If Mary and Tom were married,

they would live together.

Hypothetical condition

Hypothetical result

Mary and Tom would live together

if they were married.

Hypothetical result

Hypothetical condition


Tom and Mary are not married.

Tom and Mary do not live together.



Conditional sentences have three basic forms:

  1. if-clause in the present tense (shows condition and result relationships in the present or future)
  2. if-clause in the simple past tense (shows past condition and result relationship OR shows hypothetical situations in the present or future)
  3. if-clause in the past perfect (shows hypothetical situations in the past).

Conditional sentences have specific grammar rules for different meanings and functions.