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First let’s remember when we use the first and second conditional.
When we want to communicate that a situation and its consequence is a real possibility for an individual, we use the first conditional in English. For example, « If I study hard, I will pass the exam ». This communicates that studying hard is a real possibility for me and, in that situation, passing the exam is what will happen as a consequence. The structure of the first conditional is «If + present + will do».
When we are only imagining a situation, something that probably wouldn’t happen, we use the second conditional. Its structure is « If + past + would do ». For example, « If I was Greek, I’d speak Greek ».
When we want to speak about general truths and scientific facts about the world – in other words – situations that are always true, we use the zero conditional and the structure is «If + present + present».
For example, « If it rains, the streets get wet», «If you mix red paint and yellow paint, you make orange paint», « I am happy if you are happy»…
We also often use the zero conditional to give instructions. In this case, we will use an imperative in the main clause. E.g. «If you are ill, go home», «If you want to go to the party, meet me at my place at 10 P.M.»
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- Colloquial English Expressions and Phrasal Verbs – Part II
- Making a suggestion in English
- Zero Conditional: IF + PRESENT + PRESENT = ALWAYS
- Modal Auxiliaries For Probability
- No Pun Intended