Conditional overview with examples
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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 from 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 when 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 moved 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 combine 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 with 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.

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