ZERO CONDITIONAL : factsgeneral rules + normal processes: routines 

If / when + present simple, then present simple

  • If / when I miss a meeting, my boss gets angry
  • When I create the quarterly budget, it always takes a long time
  • When I wake up late, I don´t have breakfast.
  • When I finish a call, I take a coffee break.

FIRST CONDITIONAL : a future (one time) high probability situation and what will happen: prediction

If  / When  + present simple , then + will (modal) + present simple

* There is a difference between “if” and “when.” When we use if, the first clause (sentence) might happen. When we use when, the first clause is planned or expected to happen and we are just waiting for it.

  • If I miss the meeting , my boss will kill me. ( 50% probability→ prediction )
  • When we meet, I’ll buy you a beer. (planned event → prediction)
  • When I visit my mom, I will give her a cake.
  • If I visit my mom this weekend, I will tell her about it.

SECOND CONDITIONAL: what could be now , but it’s a low probability of happening : prediction

If + past simple , would (past modal) + present simple

  • If I lived in America, I would make more money
  • If I had a dog , I would walk much more often.
  • If I found nice land to buy, I would move out of Prague.

*All of these situations in the first clause are unlikely to be true, but I can still imagine and dream 🙂

THIRD CONDITIONAL: Imagining a different situation in the past and the result in the past: 

If + past perfect, would (past modal)+ present perfect

  • If she had never sent the CV, she wouldn’t have got the job.
  • If Babis had won the election, it would have been really bad.
  • If I had never moved to Prague, I would not have learned the czech language.

MIXED CONDITIONAL : Imagining a different situation in the past and the result in the present

If + past perfect , would (past modal ) + present simple 

  • If I had studied better, I would have a better career now
  • If they had not missed their flight, they would be on holiday this week.
  • If I had not bought coffee with my first bitcoins, I would be rich.

*Now again, I am imagining a different situation were true, one where I was not a bad student, and what effect it would currently have on my life . This conditional is commonly used for regrets.


Different modals:  instead of ‘will’ or ‘would’, it’s possible to use other modal verbs: should / can / could/ might /etc.

  •  If I were rich, I could buy a car

Switching the order: you can start a conditional with the second clause

  • I’ll buy you a beer when we meet (but no comma is used in this form).

Phrases instead of If: when  / unless/ even if / as long as

  • Unless you finish your work, we won’t go to the cottage. ( “unless” means the same as “if you don’t” and the second clause needs to be a negative)
  • Even if we practice all night, the album won’t be finished by tomorrow. ( “even if” means that the first clause could be true or false, the result still will not happen) Only if you were braver, would you be more successful. ( “Only if” stresses the importance of the first clause)
  • As long as he doesn’t sell his bitcoins, he will make a profit later. ( “as long as” is similar to “if” with a stronger emphasis on the importance of the first clause)

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