Conditionals Part 1 by Aidan Isherwood

Many of you know my colleague Aidan Isherwood. He is fantastic at grammar and has written the first in a series for the blog. This is on the conditionals. Most grammar I am competent at but the three conditionals are something I just don’t understand. I cannot even use them properly myself. So thank you Aidan!


The zero conditional


This is the first of a series of posts about conditionals, or If-sentences — though it is worth remembering that these sentences can also use When and Unless, not only If.


This first type of conditional is used to describe a condition that is always true. It is not speculating, or predicting or talking about the past or the future. For example:

  •  If you speak
    Swedish, you probably understand
    some Danish.


  • If you are
    from the south of Sweden,
    you probably understand more Danish
    than someone from the north ofSweden.


  • If you heat water
    to 100 C, it boils.



As you see, theses sentences use the present simple for the condition you describe and then the present simple again for the result.


IF  + Present Simple,   Present Simple


We also use the same structure for giving instructions based on conditions, as follows:


  • If you get there
    before me, wait by the bar.


  • If they get really
    hungry, give them some fruit.


  • When you arrive, call


  • Don’t call me, unless you really need to.


For further reference:




Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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