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Conditional Tense

Tips and Self-Assessment Quiz On Conditional Tense

Tips on Conditional Tenses

Tips on answering questions in English grammar related to Conditional Tense

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 28, 2017 8:42:01 PM

Grammar Rules with 6 Tips on using Conditional Tense

Conditional Tenses:

Conditional tenses are used to speculate about what could happen, what might have happened, and what we wish would happen. In all cases, these sentences are made up of an ‘if clause’ and a main clause.

Classifying Conditional tenses based on the nature of the condition:

a)    If you study hard, you will get a medal. (Open Condition)

b)    If you studied hard, you would get a medal. (Improbable or imaginary condition)

c)    If you had studied hard, you would have got a medal. (Unfulfilled or unreal condition)


Classifying Conditional Tenses:


Open Condition:

a)    Usage: A possible condition and its probable result

b)    If clause verb tense: Simple present: If you study hard

c)    Main clause verb tense: Simple Future (will /shall /can/May + plain infinitive) you will get a medal.


Improbable Condition:

a)    Usage: A hypothetical condition and its probable result

b)    If clause verb tense: Simple past: If you studied hard

c)    Main clause verb tense: Present/ Continuous Conditional (would/should/could/might + plain infinitive) you would get a medal.


Unfulfilled Condition:

a)    Usage: An unreal past condition and its probable result in the past

b)    If clause verb tense: Past perfect: If you had studied hard

c)    Main clause verb tense: Perfect /Continuous Conditional (would/should/could/might + perfect infinitive) you would have got a medal.


Conditionals: Open Condition


Used to describe that something will happen if a certain condition is fulfilled or refers to a possible condition and its probable result.

1.    Facts:

If you hit the dog, it will bite you.

2.    Give Warnings:

If you don't leave, I'll call the police.

3.    Modals in main clause to express certainty, permission, or a recommendation:

If you drop that glass, it might break.

4.    Interrogative version:

What will you do if you miss the bus?

5.    Reverse order:

If it rains, you will get wet.

You will get wet if it rain.


Conditionals: Improbable Condition


Used to describe that something which we don't expect to happen or refers to an unlikely or hypothetical condition and its probable result. Although the If clause takes a past tense, the sentence actually talks about the Present.

1      Hypothetical Situation:

      If I had a degree, I could get a job easily.

2   Present Continuous Conditional (expresses an unfinished or continuing action or situation):

     You wouldn't be smiling if you knew the truth.

3   Modals in main clause to express certainty, permission, or a recommendation:

     He could go to the concert if you gave him your ticket.

4   Interrogative version:

     If you were a millionaire, how would you spend your time?

5   Reverse order:

      If it rained, you would get wet.

      You would get wet if it rained.


Conditionals: Unfulfilled Condition


Used to describe that something did not happen because a certain condition was not fulfilled or refers to an impossible condition and its probable result in past.

1    Regret:

      If I had worked harder I would have passed the exam.

2    Perfect Conditional Tense (would + have + past participle):

       I would have bought you a present if I had known it was your birthday.

3    Modals in main clause to express certainty, permission, or a recommendation:

       You could have been on time if you had caught the bus.

4     Interrogative version:

       Would she have gone to concert if you had given her the tickets?

5     Reverse order:

       If it had rained, you would have gotten wet.

       You would have gotten wet if it had rained.


Tips on using Conditional Tense:


Tip #1: Zero Conditional

Zero Conditional: Used to make statements about the real world, general truths, and scientific facts.

Nature: Real and possible

Time: Now and always

Formation: If + simple present -- main clause + simple present

Example:

a)    If you heat ice, it melts.

b)    When you heat ice, it melts. ("If" can be replaced with "when", because both express general truths)

c)    If Suresh comes, tell him to meet me at the office. (Using the imperative in the main clause to give instructions)


Tip #2: Mixed Conditional

Mixed Conditional:  Used to express an unreal present situation and its probable but unreal past .

Nature: unreal and improbable

Time: Now and always + Past

Formation: If + past perfect-- main clause + present conditional OR If + simple past-- main clause + perfect conditional

Example:

a)    If you had warned me then, I would not be in prison now. (If + past perfect-- main clause + present conditional)

b)    If I wasn't afraid of dogs, I would have picked it up. (If + simple past-- main clause + perfect conditional)


Tip #3: Will, Would, Had

Will, Would: normally ‘will’ or ‘would’ is not used in if clauses. However to express willingness or requests, they can be used in if clauses.

a)    If it will rain today you will get wet. (Wrong)

b)    If you will come this way, the manager will see you now. (Correct)

Would and had can be contracted to‘d:

a)    If I’d (would) known you were in hospital, I’d (had) have visited you. (Wrong)

b)    If I’d (had) known you were in hospital, I’d (would) have visited you. (Correct)


Tip #4: Some, Any

Somewhere, Anywhere: After if, we can either use "some (-one, -where)" or "any (-one, -where)”. Though both refer to undetermined quantities, there is a subtle difference.

Any: extends without limit but usually used in negative sense.

  •  If I have any spare time next weekend, I will meet you. (There is hardly any time to spare)

Some: a limiting word but expecting a positive outcome

  •  If I have some spare time next weekend, I will meet you. (Chances are high that there will be time)


Tip #5: Unless

Unless: to express negative conditionals, ‘unless’ should be used.

a)    I'll be back tomorrow if there is not a plane strike. (Wrong)

b)    I'll be back tomorrow unless there is a plane strike. (Correct)


Tip #6: Were

Were: For unreal conditionals, ‘were’ is used instead of ‘was’.

a)    If I was taller, I would buy this dress. (Wrong)

b)    If I were taller, I would buy this dress. (Correct)


Spot the Errors:


Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Present Tense.


#1:

If you freeze water, it might become a solid. (Incorrect)

If you freeze water, it becomes a solid. (Correct)


#2:

If you dropped that glass, it will break. (Incorrect)

If you drop that glass, it will break. (Correct)


#3:

If I was a billionaire, I would give everyone a job. (Incorrect)

If I were a billionaire, I would give everyone a job. (Correct)


#4:

I would have been happy if you were calling me on my birthday. (Incorrect)

I would have been happy if you had called me on my birthday. (Correct)


#5:

I'd (had) have bought you a present if I'd (would) known it was your birthday. (Incorrect)

I'd (would) have bought you a present if I'd (had) known it was your birthday. (Correct)


#6:

I would have been happy to help you if I am not in a financial crisis. (Incorrect)

I would have been happy to help you if I wasn't in a financial crisis. (Correct)


#7:

We shall celebrate the party outdoors if it not rains next week. (Incorrect)

We shall celebrate the party outdoors unless it rains next week. (Correct)


#8:

If you look inside the fridge, you might find any food. (Incorrect)

If you look inside the fridge, you might find some food. (Correct)


#9:

If I was you, I would give up smoking. (Incorrect)

If I were you, I would give up smoking. (Correct)


#10:

If you will not hurry, you will miss the bus. (Incorrect)

If you don't hurry, you will miss the bus. (Correct)


#11:

I am working in Italy if I spoke Italian. (Incorrect)

I would be working in Italy if I spoke Italian. (Correct)


#12:

If Mark did the washing up, his mother will have more time for him. (Incorrect)

If Mark does the washing up, his mother will have more time for him. (Correct)


#13:

If Vivek gotten up earlier, he wouldn't have been late for school. (Incorrect)

If Vivek had gotten up earlier, he wouldn't have been late for school. (Correct)


#14:

If you drop that glass, it may be broken. (Incorrect)

If you drop that glass, it might break. (Correct)


#15:

Unless she is not careful, she will fall off the bike. (Incorrect)

Unless she is careful, she will fall off the bike. (Correct)


#16:

I could have offered you my help in case I knew all about it. (Incorrect)

I could have offered you my help in case I had known all about it. (Correct)


#17:

If I did work harder at school, I would have a better job now. (Incorrect)

If I had worked harder at school, I would have a better job now. (Correct)


#18:

What will happen if I will push this button? (Incorrect)

What will happen if I push this button? (Correct)


#19:

If I know where she lived, I would go and see her. (Incorrect)

If I knew where she lived, I would go and see her. (Correct)


#20:

If you’d (would) given me your e-mail, I’d (had) have written to you. (Incorrect)

If you’d (had) given me your e-mail, I’d (would) have written to you. (Correct)



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conditional-tense

Conditional Tense

Tips and Self-Assessment Quiz On Conditional Tense

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