Sophie is in Iceland for work and Oliver is in a really bad mood. 

We use conditional sentences to say one thing depends on another. They can be used to talk about real or imaginary situations. One of the clauses starts with if (or a similar word) – this is the conditional clause. The other clause talks about the result of the conditional clause happening.


Don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than it sounds. Let’s look at some examples.

If you don’t tell me, I’ll just keep asking.
If I promise to travel less, will you forgive me?

I know that one. It’s a first conditional: if + present simple, then will + infinitive.

That’s right. It’s for talking about a situation in the future which the speaker thinks is quite possible. If the first condition happens, something will happen as a result. In this conditional sentence, the present tense after if refers to the future, not the present.

And can you change the order of the clauses round?

Yes, and we leave out the comma in the middle of the sentence if the order is changed round.

I’ll just keep asking if you don’t tell me.

OK. I also know the second conditional. If + past simple, then would + infinitive.

Right again! This is for talking about an unlikely or unreal condition.

If you travelled less because of me, I’d feel worse.
If I had the opportunity to visit places like that, I wouldn’t complain!

So, in the second example, Oliver doesn’t think he will have the opportunity to travel a lot. It’s possible but improbable. We use the past simple to show that it’s not likely, not to indicate past time.

Can you use any other verbs, apart from would, in this kind of conditional?

Yes, we sometimes use other modal verbs like might or could in the result clause (not the if clause).

I see. What about, 'If you mix blue and yellow, you get green'. Is that a conditional?

Yes. That’s a zero conditional. We often use them for facts, or in academic subjects.

When it rains a lot, the animals move to higher ground. (geography)

What about other words that can replace if, like unless and as long as?

Well, unless is a kind of negative version of if.

I’ll never go unless you take me. (= If you don’t take me, I’ll never go.)

As long as imposes a condition on someone. You’re telling them what you expect them to do.

You can borrow my surfboard as long as you get it back to me by five o’clock.

So if you agree to what I say, you can borrow my surfboard?


Are there any other conditionals?

Well, there’s the third conditional, but we’ll deal with that separately.

Phew! Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll have to stop there.

That’s fine, as long as everything’s clear!



If you could go anywhere in the world on your next holiday, where would you go and why?


crystal1511's picture
crystal1511 29 April, 2016 - 14:55

If I had enough money, I would go to the beach this summer because it's very hot. I can't stand it anymore

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DashaB's picture
DashaB 31 March, 2016 - 09:41

It is a very hard question. because I want to visit a lot of places, but I think if I could go anywhere on my holidays, I would go to Venice. It's my dream since I was five years old, and I think it is a wonderful city for tourists.

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enelmar's picture
enelmar 9 February, 2016 - 12:43

If I could go anywhere on my next holidays, I would go to the USA because I love the landscape and beaches in this country. I would like to visit New York because I've never been there. It will be a wonderful experience and I would improve my English.

Best wishes from Spain.

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Pheanut's picture
Pheanut 25 January, 2016 - 08:52

If I were able to go on my vacation, I would go to Dubai city in the United Arab Emerates due to the fact that it has the most beautiful view in the world and there are not only lots of skyscrapers but also modern cars.

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princess2001's picture
princess2001 12 December, 2015 - 06:53

If I could go anywhere in the world in my next holiday, I would go to Makkah to perform pilgrimage as it's obligatory on me.

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 17 November, 2015 - 05:47

Hi anime_lover. Yes, you're right. Have you studied that before? There's one example of it above:

  • When it rains a lot, the animals move to higher ground.

You can find some more examples of the zero conditional for rules in this video from British Council's Johnny Grammar:

Are you confident with conditionals and the zero conditional?

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Mashik's picture
Mashik 5 October, 2015 - 20:43

If I could go anywhere in the world on my next holiday, I would go to Korea! I really admire Asian culture, food and language.

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Nelly's picture
Nelly 10 July, 2015 - 15:50

If I had a similiar opportunity I'd go to Poland: it's my dream.
I'd like to go to visit Chopin's house (he seems French, but he was born right here)
I'm also a pianist and I'm very interested in it.
In addition to it, I also like Polish people: they're friendly and available :) I played a Chopin's nocturne for them at school and I immediately had a good impression.

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Tuyen's picture
Tuyen 3 July, 2015 - 04:55

I would like to go to Thailand, bcz, I love Thai's films ( having many beautiful place) and that is a reason I want to visit it

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MaikoAngel's picture
MaikoAngel 11 June, 2015 - 20:11

When I could go anywhere in the world on my next holiday I would go to a beautiful place where I can find inspirations. I want to have a journey around the world. I want to meet new people and contact with them.
I can help them too. I want to go somewhere where it's an amazing hotel. Quiet and peace. Water, book,
sun and sleep. That's it!

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laray47's picture
laray47 10 April, 2015 - 20:05

if i could go anywhere in the world on my next holiday i would like to visit australia , i love australia for its tradition , costumes and there is many carnavals that i would like to assist ,.. like the carnaval of colors , you can found people fighting with colors and so many other things...

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oumayma's picture
oumayma 30 March, 2015 - 12:11

I love visiting new places from around the world. If i have enough funds i would go to Barcelona cause i visit it last summer it was picturesque and luscious i stayed there only one week so i didn't get enough of it

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sona's picture
sona 31 January, 2015 - 14:23

If i could go enywherein the world on my next holiday,I'd go in Barcelona.I love its team and I would visit 'Camp Nou',the biggest stadium in the world.

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Elsa_Scarlet_'s picture
Elsa_Scarlet_ 26 December, 2014 - 10:03

there are 3 conditionals, first conditional: if + present simple, then will + infinitive, second conditional. If + past simple, then would + infinitive. Then, what is the third form?

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Silvermist's picture
Silvermist 7 December, 2014 - 11:37

Greece.........Oh Gods of Olympus, I'm dying to see the Parthenon. Plus all the temples of the gods and goddesses. I all so want to seek out the gleaming Mediterranean sea in-front of Greece.

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