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Tu cita con el inglés (vol. 4) – El condicional

Una semana más, os dejamos una pequeña aportación para que podáis seguir mejorando vuestro nivel de inglés. En este volumen de Tu cita con el inglés, Ronan O’Donnell nos habla del condicional, ese gran desconocido para muchos españoles.

Desde los tipos de condicional existentes en inglés (sí, hay más de uno) hasta ejemplos de vídeos musicales donde se utilizan condicionales en las letras de las canciones, este artículo os será, sin duda, una gran ayuda.

Disfrutad, aprended y como siempre, dejadnos saber vuestras opiniones para futuras publicaciones de esta sección.

If at first you don’t succeed…

‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.’ This saying was used to encourage American schoolchildren to do their homework and shouldn’t be forgotten as you read through this week’s article – conditional clauses. Many such sayings and proverbs use the conditional sentence structure including the following the following Chinese proverb.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

Conditional sentences are used in a number of different situations. They describe possible actions and their results and are made up of two parts: a conditional clause(‘if’ part of the sentence) and a main clause(result).

 Conditionals can be used in a number of different contexts:

-to make a suggestion (We can do it tomorrow if you want)

-to threaten someone (If you come one step closer, I will shoot you)

-to make a request (If you are not busy, could you type this for me)

-to warn someone (If you are cycling in London, beware of the buses)

-to criticize someone (If you hadn’t been so late, we wouldn’t have missed the start of the film)

The most common forms of conditional sentences are usually classified in the following way and follow similar word patterns:

The zero or type 0 conditional is often used to talk about situations that are always true, general facts.

It proposes a possible condition (If I take a taxi,) and a definite result(I always get there on time). The zero conditional suggests that one action always follows another

and follows the pattern if… + present, … + present

If I have the time, I grab a coffee at the cafè.

If I take a taxi, I always get there on time.

The first or type 1 conditional expresses a possible condition (If we take a taxi,) and probable result (it will be cheaper)

and follows the pattern if… + present*, … + will + bare infinitive

*here we can use the present simple, continuous or perfect

If I have the time, I will call you.

If we take a taxi, it will be cheaper. (open possibility)

The second or type 2 conditional  expresses an unreal condition and an imagined result(unlikely) 

and follows the pattern if… + past(simple or continuous), … + would*+ bare infinitive

*we can also use other modals such as could, should or might

If I had the time, I would come with you.

If we took a taxi, it would be cheaper. (theoretical possibility)

The third or type 3 conditional refers to an unreal or imaginary past action.

and follows the pattern if… + past perfect, … + would + have + past participle

If I’d(I had) had the time, I would have come with you.

If we had taken a taxi, it would have been cheaper.

Mixed Conditionals are usually but not always a combination of a 2nd and 3rd conditional and are used to express a past condition with a present result.

If the car hadn’t broken down, we would be at the airport by now.

It is beyond the scope of this article to cover everything there is to know about conditional sentences but hopefully this sheds some light on an area that some students find difficult. If there is any area that you find particularly challenging, please leave feedback and we can maybe look at it in more depth in a future instalment.

You have been subjected to a lot of information this week so sit back and absorb some more accessible and enjoyable conditionals. I will let Noel Gallagher end this week’s article with his sing-along conditional song ‘If I had a gun…’,

or if that is not to your taste why not try Beyonce, ‘If I were a boy,…’

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Ronan O'Donnell

English teacher in London. Founder of A2B English, providing English Teachers to Individuals and Businesses in London.

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