Zero conditional – grammar chart
We use the zero conditional to talk about general truths or results that always happen if a condition is present. We are talking in general, not about one particular situation.
- If the milk smells bad, I don’t drink it.
- If water reaches 100 degrees, it boils.
- If I’ve drunk, I never drive.
- If people are talking all the time, I can’t concentrate.
We can put the main clause at the beginning. Then we don’t use a comma between the two clauses.
- I never go to bed late if I have to get up early.
We can usually replace the if in this conditional with when without changing the meaning.
- Dogs can attack you when you are scared.
- When the weather is bad, people don’t go shopping.
First conditional – grammar chart
The first conditional is used to talk about things that might happen in the future if a condition is present. We don’t know if those things will happen or not, but they are a real possibility.
- If you study, you‘ll pass.
- If he doesn’t call you, tell me immediately.
- If you’ve come to class, the exam is going to be easy.
- If you help me, I’ll have finished by the end of the month.
We don’t use will in the if clause.
- I’ll help you if you need me (NOT
if you will need me)
unless = if (not)
We can also use unless in conditional sentences to mean if … (not)
- I won’t go on holiday unless I save some money.
- = I won’t go on holiday if I don’t save some money.
We use in case to talk about the possibility of something happening. After in case we also use present to talk about the future.
- I’ll take my umbrella in case it rains. (=maybe it will rain)
But the meaning of in case is different from if. Compare:
- I’ll take my umbrella in case it rains. (=I’ll take my umbrella if it rains and I’ll take my umbrella if it doesn’t rain)
- I’ll take my umbrella if it rains. (=I’ll take my umbrella if it rains but I won’t take my umbrella if it doesn’t rain)
First vs zero conditional
We use the first conditional to talk about a particular situation, whereas we use the zero conditional to talk about what happens in general.
- If you don’t use oil, it tastes awful. (=I’m talking about what happens every time.)
- If you don’t use oil, it will taste awful. (=I’m talking about this particular occasion.)
Future time clauses – grammar chart
When we are talking about the future we use the present, (NOT
will) after the expressions when, as soon as, until, once, before, after, while. After these expressions we can use any form of present (present simple, present continuous, present perfect) to talk about the future.
- I’ll go to bed as soon as I finish my homework.
- When I am 65, I will retire.
- I won’t leave until you arrive.
As it happens with the conditional sentences, we use a comma when we begin the sentence with a time clause. But we don’t use a comma if we put the time clause at the end of the sentence.
- When I am 65, I will retire.
- I will retire when I am 65.
With present perfect
We can often use the present perfect after the time word. The meaning is similar to using the present simple, but with the present perfect we emphasise that the action will be completed.
- I’ll go to bed as soon as I have finished my homework.
- I won’t leave until you have arrived.