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 Conditionals in English grammar

Conditional meaning:

Conditional sentences are sentences that express one thing contingent on something else.

What are the 4 types of conditionals?

The term conditional refers to any sentence which contains an if clause and a main / result clause. There are four conditionals in English. Below are the four English grammar conditional (types of conditionals), conditionals examples, form, and conditionals meaning (uses).


Zero conditional

Zero conditional examples: 

  • If you mix blue and yellow, you get green.
  • If you heat ice, it melts.

Form:  If + Subject + present simple, subject + present simple.

Meaning: Zero conditional is used to express to talk about something which is always true.

First conditional 

First conditional examples: 

  • If you work hard, you will pass your exams.
  • will stay at home if it rains tomorrow.

Form: If + Subject + present simple, subject + will + infinitive without ‘to’.

First conditional use: The speaker feels that the situation in the if-clause is possible.


  1. Conditional sentences contain two clauses: an if-clause and a main clause.
  2. In conditional sentences, you can reverse the two parts (= the if-clause and the main clause). In this case you don’t usually write a comma (,).

Second conditional

Second conditional examples: 

  • If I were you, I would eat less chocolate.
  • I would help the poor if I had a lot of money.


In conditional type 2 you can use ‘was’ or ‘were’ after (I, he, she, or it).

Form: If + subject + past simple, subject + would/could/might + infinitive without ‘to’.

Meaning: In the second conditional,  the speaker thinks that the situation in the if-clause is unrealistic or impossible.


Second conditional sentences use past verbs (were, had, etc.) but they aren’t about the past. They are about the present or the future.

second conditional
Second conditional

Third conditional

Examples of third conditional: 

  • If I had gone to the meeting, I would/could have met Sandra.
  • You wouldn’t have missed your plane if you had got up early.

Form: If + subject + past perfect, subject + would/could/might + have + past participle.

Meaning: Conditional type 3 is used to talk about events in the past that cannot be changed. Conditional type 3 is especially used to express regret, relief or criticism.

Now, what is the fourth conditional? What is it called? The fourth conditional is called mixed conditional. 

Mixed conditional

Mixed conditional examples:

  • If I had taken my boss’s advice, I wouldn’t be in this mess now.

Form: Third conditional structure, second conditional structure.

Meaning: A past condition with a present result.

Conditionals exercises

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