Using the first and second conditional forms
We have already learned that first conditional forms are used to talk about real situations that take / will take place in the present / future. Note that this conditional form is also called the real conditional.
In first conditional, we use simple present tense in the if-clause and will + infinitive (base form of the verb) in the result clause.
- If you are hungry, I will get you something to eat.
- If you eat something, you will feel better.
- If you feel better, we will go out.
- If she works hard, she will do well on her exams.
- If she does well on her exams, she will enter a good university.
- If she graduates from a good university, she will get a good job.
- If she gets a good job, she will make a lot of money.
- If she makes a lot of money, she will help the poor and the needy.
Note that we can put the if-clause after the result clause. In this case, the comma is not used.
- I will get you something to eat if you are hungry.
- You will feel better if you eat something.
Second conditional is also called ‘unreal conditional’. As the name itself indicates, the second conditional is used to talk about unreal situations.
Here we use a simple past tense in the if-clause and would + base form of the verb in the result clause. Note that you can put the if-clause before or after the result-clause. The second conditional is used to talk about an imaginary situation and its probable result.
- If Sarah were my daughter, I would not let her hang out with boys.
Sarah isn’t my daughter. Here I am simply imagining what I would do if Sarah was my daughter.