CONDITIONAL OVERVIEW WITH EXAMPLES

CONDITIONAL OVERVIEW WITH EXAMPLES
Present Real Conditional Present Unreal Conditional

If I have time, I study English.
(Sometimes I have time.)

If I had time, I would study English.
(I don’t have time.)

Past Real Conditional Past Unreal Conditional

If I had time, I studied English.
(Somtimes I had time.)

If I had had time, I would have studied English.
(I didn’t have time.)

Future Real Conditional Future Unreal Conditional

If I have time, I will study English.
If I have time, I am going to study English. (I don’t know if I will have time or not.)
Other forms possible.

If I had time, I would study English.
(I won’t have time.)

Other forms possible.

Present Real Conditional
FORM
[If / When . SIMPLE PRESENT., . SIMPLE PRESENT . ]
USE
The Present Real Conditional is used to talk about what you normally do in real-life situations.
EXAMPLES: If I go to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually take a bottle of wine or some flowers.

When I have a day off frrom work, I often go to the beach.

If the weather is nice, she walks to work.

Jerry helps me with my home work when he has time.

I read if there is nothing on TV.

What do you do wh

hen it rains?

I stay at home.

Where do you stay if you go to Sydney?

I stay with my friends near the harbor.

IMPORTANT If / When
Both “if” and “when” are used in the Present Real Conditional. Using “if” suggests that something happens less frequently. Using “when” suggests that something happens regularly.
EXAMPLES: When I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach.

(I regularly have days off from work.)

If I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach.

(I rarely have days off from work.)

Present Unreal Conditional
FORM
[If . SIMPLE PAST ., . would + VERB . ]
USE
The Present Unreal Conditional is used to talk about what you would do in imaginary situations in general. EXAMPLES: If I had a car, I would drive to work. But I don’t have a car.

She would travel around the world if she had more money. But she doesn’t have much money.

I would read more if I didn’t have a TV.

Mary would move to Japan if she spoke Japanese.

If they worked harder, they would earn more money.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

I would travel.

Where would you live if you mo

oved to the U.S.?

I would live in Seattle.
EXCEPTION If I were .
In the Present Unreal Conditional, the form “was” is not considered grammatically correct. In written English or in testing situations, you should always use “were.” However, in everyday conversation, “was” is often used.
EXAMPLES: If he were French, he would live in Paris.

If she were rich, she would buy a yacht.

I would play basketball if I were taller.

I would buy that computer if it were cheaper.

I would buy that computer if it was cheaper. NOT CORRECT (But often said in conversation.)
EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs
There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:
would + can = could
would + shall = should
would + may = might
The words “can,” “shall” and “may” must be used in these special forms; they cannot be used with “would.”
EXAMPLES: If I went to Egypt, I would can learn Arabic. NOT CORRECT

If I went to Egypt, I could learn Arabic. CORRECT

If she had time, she would may go to the party. NOT CORRECT

If she had time, she might go to the party. CORRECT
The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include conditional, so you cannot co
ombine them with “would.”
EXAMPLES: If I had more time, I would could exercise after work. NOT CORRECT

If I had more time, I could exercise after work. CORRECT

If he invited you, you really would should go. NOT CORRECT

If he invited you, you really should go. CORRECT
IMPORTANT Only use “If”
Only the word “if” is used with the Present Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.
EXAMPLES: I would buy that computer when it were cheaper. NOT CORRECT

I would buy that computer if it were cheaper. CORRECT
Past Real Conditional
FORM
[If / When . SIMPLE PAST., . SIMPLE PAST. ]
USE
The Past Real Conditional describes what you used to do in particular real life situations. It suggests that your habits have changed and you do not usually do these things today.
EXAMPLES: If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually took a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.

When I had a day off from work, I often went to the beach. Now, I never get time off.

If the weather was nice, she often walked to work. Now, she usually drives.

Jerry always helped me wi
ith my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.

I usually read if there was nothing on TV.

What did you usually do when it rained?

I usually stayed at home.
IMPORTANT Used to
The form “Used to” is often used to emphasize that the past action was a habit. If you are not familiar with the form “Used to”
EXAMPLES: If I went to a friends house for dinner, I used to take a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.

When I had a day off from work, I used to go to the beach. Now, I never get time off.

If the weather was nice, she used to walk to work. Now, she usually drives.

Jerry used to help me with my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.

What did you do when it rained?

I used to stay at home.

IMPORTANT If / When
Both “if” and “when” are used in the Past Real Conditional. Using “if” suggests that something happened less frequently. Using “when” suggests that something happened regularly.
EXAMPLES: When I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.

(I regularly had days off from work.)

If I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.

(I rarely had days off from work.)

Past Unreal Conditional
FORM
[If . PAST PERFECT ., . would have + PAST PARTICIPLE . ]
USE
The Past Unreal Conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the past. You can describe what you would have done differently or how something could have happened differently if circumstances had been different.
EXAMPLES: If I had had a car, I would have driven to work. But I didn’t have one, so I took the bus.

She would have traveled around the world if she had had more money. But she didn’t have much money, so she never traveled.

I would have read more as a child if I hadn’t had a TV. Unfortunately, I did have a TV, so I never read for entertainment.

Mary would have gotten the job and moved to Japan if she had studied Japanese in school instead of French.

If they had worked harder, they would have earned more money. Unfortunately, they were lazy and they didn’t earn much.

What would you have done if you had won the lottery last week?

I would have traveled.

What city would you have chosen if you had decided to move to the United States?

I would have chosen Seattle.
EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs
There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:
would have + can = could have
would have + shall = should have
would have + may = might have
The words “can,” “shall” and “may” must be used in these special forms; they cannot be used with “would have.”
EXAMPLES: If I had gone to Egypt, I could have learned Arabic. CORRECT

If she had had time, she might have gone to the party. CORRECT
The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would.”
EXAMPLES: If I had had more time, I would have could exercise after work. NOT CORRECT

If I had had more time, I could have exercised after work. CORRECT

If he had invited you, you would have might go. NOT CORRECT

If he had invited you, you might have gone . CORRECT
IMPORTANT Only use “If”
Only the word “if” is used with the Past Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.
EXAMPLES: I would have bought that computer when it had been cheaper. NOT CORRECT

I would have bought that computer if it had been cheaper. CORRECT
Future Real Conditional
FORM
[If / When .SIMPLE PRESENT., . SIMPLE FUTURE. ]
Notice that there is no future in the “If” or “When” clause.

USE
The Future Real Conditional describes what you think you will do in a specific situation in the future. It is different from other real conditional forms because unlike the present or the past, you do not know what will happen in the future. Although this form is called a “real conditional,” you are usually imagining or guessing about the future. It is called “real” because it is still possible that the action might occur in the future. Carefully study the following examples and compare them to the Future Unreal Conditional described below.
EXAMPLES: If I go to a friend’s house for dinner tonight, I will take a bottle of wine or some flowers.

(I am still not sure if I will go to his house or not.)

When I have a day off from work, I am going to go to the beach.

(I have to wait until I have a day off.)

If the weather is nice, she is going to walk to work.

(It depends on the weather.)

Jerry will help me with my homework when he has time.

(I have to wait until he has time.)

I am going to read if there is nothing on TV.

(It depends on the TV schedule.)

What are you going to do if it rains?

I am going to stay at home.
IMPORTANT If / When
Both “if” and “when” are used in the Future Real Conditional, but the use is different from other real conditionals. In the Future Real Conditional, “if” suggests that you do not know if something will happen or not. “When” suggests that something will definitely happen at some point; we are simply waiting for it to occur. Notice also that the Simple Future is not used in “if’ clauses or “when” clauses.
EXAMPLES: When you call me, I will give you the address.

(You are going to call me later, and at that time, I will give you the address.)

If you call me, I will give you the address.

(If you want the address, you can call me.)

Future Unreal Conditional
FORM
[If . SIMPLE PAST ., . would + VERB . ]
Notice the form looks the same as Present Unreal Conditional.

USE
The Future Unreal Conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the future. It is not as common as the Future Real Conditional because most English speakers leave open the possibility that anything MIGHT happen in the future. It is only used when a speaker needs to emphasize that something really is impossible.
EXAMPLES: If I had a day off from work next week, I would go to the beach.

(I don’t have a day off from work.)

I am busy next week. If I had time, I would come to your party.

(I can’t come.)

Jerry would help me with my homework tomorrow if he didn’t have to work.

(However, he does have to work tomorrow.)
EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs
There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:
would + can = could
would + shall = should
would + may = might
The words “can,” “shall” and “may” must be used in these special forms; they cannot be used with “would.”
EXAMPLES: If I went to Egypt next year, I would can learn Arabic. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. NOT CORRECT

If I went to Egypt next year, I could learn Arabic. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. CORRECT
The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would.”
EXAMPLES: If I didn’t have to work tonight, I would could go to the fitness center. NOT CORRECT

If I didn’t have to work tonight, I could go to the fitness center. CORRECT
IMPORTANT Only use “If”
Only the word “if” is used with the Past Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.
EXAMPLES: I would buy that computer tomorrow when it were cheaper. NOT CORRECT

I would buy that computer tomorrow if it were cheaper. CORRECT
IMPORTANT Alternate Forms of Future Unreal Conditional
There are alternate forms of the Future Unreal Conditional which have developed in English. Study the examples below:
[ If. were to + VERB. , . would + VERB. ]
If I were to lose my job, I would probably find a new one quickly.
If he were to fail his driving test, he would have to take it again.
If Sarah were to show up late to the birthday party, it would ruin the surprise.

[ If. should happen to + VERB. , . would + VERB. ]
If I should happen to lose my job, I would probably find a new one quickly.
If he should happen to fail his driving test, he would have to take it again.
If Sarah should happen to show up late to the birthday party, it would ruin the surprise.

Compare Both Forms
To help you understand the difference between the two forms above, compare the examples below:
EXAMPLES: If you help me move tomorrow, I will buy you dinner. FUTURE REAL CONDITIONAL

(I don’t know if you can help me.)

If you helped me move tomorrow, I would buy you dinner. FUTURE UNREAL CONDITIONAL

(You can’t help me, or you don’t want to help me.)
Imagining About Now + Continuous
NOTICE Sometimes the continuous form is in the “if” clause.
EXAMPLES: If the sun were shining, I would go to the beach.

(Unfortunately, it is raining so I can’t go.)

If Sam were sitting here, we would be able to ask him the question ourselves.

(But Sam is not sitting here. He is somewhere else.)

We would be able to go sailing if the wind were blowing.

(But there is no wind, so we can’t go sailing.)
NOTICE Sometimes the continuous form is in the result.
EXAMPLES: If I were in Hawaii, I would be lying on the beach.

(But I am not in Hawaii.)

If my grandfather were here, he would be talking about the war.

(But he is not here.)

I would be rafting down the Colorado River right now if my leg weren’t broken.

(But my leg is broken, so I am not there.)

Imagining About the Past + Continuous
NOTICE As in the examples above, sometimes the continuous form is in the “if” clause and sometimes it is in the result.
EXAMPLES: If I had been talking to him when he said that, I would have punched him in the face. IF CLAUSE

(But I wasn’t talking to him when he said that.)

If he had been standing near the house when the wall collapsed, it would have killed him. IF CLAUSE

(Luckily he moved away before the wall fell.)

If you had gone to his house last night, he would have been sitting on his couch in front of the TV. RESULT

(But you didn’t go to his house.)

If she had missed her train, he would have been waiting for her at the station for hours. RESULT

(Luckily, she caught her train and he didn’t have to wait.)
NOTICE The past form can be used like the Past Continuous in imaginary situations.
EXAMPLES: If James had been crossing the street when the car ran the red light, it would have hit him. IF CLAUSE

If Tom had been studying while Becky were making dinner, he would have finished his homework early and they could have gone to the movie. IF CLAUSE

If James hadn’t stopped to tie his shoe, he would have been crossing the street when the car ran the red light. RESULT

If you had gone to their house last night, Bob would have been reading the news paper, Nancy would have been talking on the phone and the kids would have been watching TV. They always do the same things. RESULT
NOTICE The past form can be used like Past Perfect Continuous in imaginary situations.
EXAMPLES: Scott said he had been studying Greek for more than five years. If he had been studying the language that long, I think he would have been able to interpret for us at the airport. IF CLAUSE

Sarah claimed she had been waiting in the rain for more than twenty minutes by the time we arrived, but she wasn’t even wet. If she had been waiting that long, I think she would have been totally drenched by the time we arrived. IF CLAUSE

Terry’s plane arrived ahead of schedule. If I hadn’t decided to go to the airport early, she would have been waiting there for more than twenty minutes before I arrived. RESULT

At the travel agency yesterday, I waited for more than an hour for somebody to help me. Finally, I got up and left. If I hadn’t decided to leave, I would have been sitting there forever. RESULT

Imagining About the Future + Continuous
NOTICE The future form looks the same as the present form. The future is indicated with words such as “tomorrow,” “next week” or “in a couple of days.”
EXAMPLES: If I were waiting there next week when he gets off the plane, he would be totally surprised. IF CLAUSE

If he were staying in that hotel next week while the conference is being held, he might be able to meet some of the key speakers and tell them about our new product. IF CLAUSE

If I were able to go to the train station tonight to meet Sandra, I would be standing on the platform waiting for her when she arrives. RESULT

If you went over to Paul’s house after work, he would probably be sitting there at his computer surfing the internet. RESULT
Mixed Conditionals
Verbs in green are in the Present Unreal Conditional.Verbs in orange – Past Unreal Conditional.Verbs in purple Future Unreal Conditional.
Mixed Conditional Patterns
PAST PRESENT
EXAMPLES: If I had won the lottery, I would be rich.

(But I didn’t win the lottery in the past and I am not rich now.)

If I had taken French in high school, I would have more job opportunities.

(But I didn’t take French in high school and I don’t have many job opportunities.)

If she had been born in the United States, she wouldn’t need a visa to work here.

(But she wasn’t born in the United States and she does need a visa now to work here.)
PAST FUTURE
EXAMPLES:If she had signed up for the ski trip last week, she would be joining us tomorrow.

(But she didn’t sign up for the ski trip last week and she won’t be joining us tomorrow.)

If Mark had gotten the job instead of Joe, he would be moving to Shanghai.

(But Mark didn’t get the job instead of Joe and Mark is not moving to Shanghai.)

If Darren hadn’t wasted his Christmas bonus gambling in Las Vegas, he would go to Mexico with us next month.

(But Darren wasted his Christmas bonus gambling in Las Vegas and he won’t go to Mexico with us next month.)
PRESENT PAST
EXAMPLES: If I were rich, I would have bought that Ferrari we saw yesterday.

(But I am not currently rich and that is why I didn’t buy the Ferrari yesterday.)

If Sam spoke Russian, he would have translated the letter for you.

(But Sam doesn’t speak Russian and that is why he didn’t translate the letter.)

If I didn’t have to work so much, I would have gone to the party last night.

(But I have to work a lot and that is why I didn’t go to the party last night.)
PRESENT FUTURE
EXAMPLES:If I didn’t have so much vacation time, I wouldn’t go with you on the cruise to Alaska next week.

(But I do have a lot of vacation time and I am going to go on the trip next week.)

If Cindy were more creative, the company would send her to New York to work on the new advertising campaign.

(But Cindy is not creative and the company won’t send her to New York to work on the new campaign.)

If Dan weren’t so nice, he wouldn’t be tutoring you in math tonight.

(But Dan is nice and he is tutoring you tonight.)
FUTURE PAST
EXAMPLES: If I weren’t going on my business trip next week, I would have accepted that new assignment at work.

(But I am going on a business trip next week, and that is why I didn’t accept that new assignment at work.)

If my parents weren’t coming this weekend, I would have planned a nice trip just for the two of us to Napa Valley.

(But my parents are coming this weekend, and that is why I didn’t plan a trip for the two of us to Napa Valley.)

If Donna weren’t making us a big dinner tonight, I would have suggested that we go to that nice Italian restaurant.

(But she is making us a big dinner tonight, and that is why I didn’t suggest that we go to that nice Italian restaurant.)
FUTURE PRESENT
EXAMPLES:If I were going to that concert tonight, I would be very excited.

(But I am not going to that concert tonight and that is why I am not excited.)

If Sandy were giving a speech tomorrow, she would be very nervous.

(But Sandy is not giving a speech tomorrow and that is why she in not nervous.)

If Seb were not coming with us to the desert, everyone would be very disappointed.

(But Seb is coming with us to the desert and that is why everyone is so happy.)

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