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Conditional Sentence

August 1, 2011

A conditional sentence must have at least two clauses: a conditional clause and a result clause. The conditional clause usually states a condition and the result clause states what will happen if the condition is fulfilled.

Read the sentences given below:

If you come tomorrow, I will tell you a secret.

Here the clause ‘If you come tomorrow’ expresses a condition. It is therefore called a conditional clause. Note that conditional clauses usually begin with if or unless.

The clause ‘I will tell you a secret’ states what will happen if the condition mentioned in the conditional clause is met. It is therefore called the result clause.

Position of If clauses

The ‘result clause’ and the ‘if clause’ are interchangeable in position.

 Susie will buy a car if she gets a promotion.

OR

If she gets a promotion, Susie will buy a car.

Note that when an if clause comes at the beginning of a sentence, it is usually separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.

There are three main types of conditional clauses and they are easily distinguished by the tenses used in them.

Type 1 conditional (real condition)

The type 1 conditional sentences merely state that something will happen if a certain condition is fulfilled – and the condition is nothing impossible or improbable. Here we use a simple present tense in the if clause and a simple future tense in the result clause. Examples:

  1. He will come if you invite him.
  2. He will win if he works hard.
  3. She will help if you ask her.
  4. I will speak to him if you want.

Type 2 conditional (unreal or imaginary condition)

The type 2 conditional sentences state the probable result of an imaginary condition.Here we use a simple past tense in the if clause and would + infinitive in the result clause. Note that the auxiliariesshould and could are also used. Example:

He would come if you invited him.

(The possibility of ‘your inviting him’ and ‘his coming’ is more doubtful here than in a sentence in the type 1 conditional.)

More examples are given below:

  1. He would win if he worked hard.
  2. She would help if you asked her.
  3. I would speak to him if you wanted.
  4. I would do it if it were possible.
  5. If he was twenty years younger, he could perhaps do it.

The type 2 conditional sentences are sometimes used to give advice.

  1. If I were you I would accept this offer.
  2. If I were you I wouldn’t provoke the old man.

Note the use of were instead of was.

Type 3 conditional (Impossible condition)

The type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about unreal and impossible situations. Here we use a past perfect tense in the if clause and would have + past participle in the result clause. Example:

He would have come if you had invited him.

(You did not invite him and therefore he did not come. But one likes to imagine what would have happened if the condition had been fulfilled, i.e, if you had invited him.)

More examples are given below:

  1. He would have won if he had worked hard.
  2. She would have helped if you had asked her.
  3. I would have spoken to her if you had wanted.

Omission of if and inversion of subject and verb

If can be dropped in a formal or literary style. Note that in such cases we put the auxiliary verb had, should or were before the subject.

Read the sentences given below:

If he had asked me earlier, I would have arranged it.
Had he asked me earlier, I would have arranged it.

If it were possible, I would help you.
Were it possible, I would help you.

If he should continue to be unpunctual we will dismiss him.
Should he continue to be unpunctual we will dismiss him.

Notes

Should is sometimes used in if clauses to imply that something is possible, but not very likely.

If + subject + were to
If can be followed by subject + were to to suggest that we are talking about an imaginary situation. Examples:

  1. If you took exercise regularly, you wouldn’t get so fat.
  2. If you were to take exercise regularly, you wouldn’t get so fat.
  3. Were you to take exercise regularly, you wouldn’t get so fat.
  4. If you drank less you wouldn’t develop liver problems.
  5. If you were to drink less you wouldn’t develop liver problems.
  6. Were you to drink less you wouldn’t develop liver problems

Conditional Sentence Test (English-Test.net)

Categories: Materi Pembelajaran
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