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?


Selenaluyifei's picture
Selenaluyifei 7 December, 2016 - 04:17

i want to go places which distinct around the world like china ,France,America.Cuz i really love travelling.

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Otaku4613's picture
Otaku4613 29 November, 2016 - 14:36

I love Japan!!!! I am practising Japanese! (why do we have to type the characters in the picture to post, mendoksei!!)

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moonatina's picture
moonatina 24 November, 2016 - 13:45

If I could go anywhere on my holiday, I would go to Canada. I'd like to visit any country, which is far from my home, but I prefer Canada, because I want to talk with the director of my favourite dance company and, of course, to see their new performances on stage, not only internet.

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Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 22 September, 2016 - 04:55

Welcome! Please write all comments in English, so all our users can understand. Thanks :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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ealkan's picture
ealkan 7 September, 2016 - 07:23

I wanna visit the North Pole. Cos I really wonder Aurora. It looks very amazing. Also I want stay in there with my girlfriend, my dog and my tea. There are awesome combine!

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hgsmf's picture
hgsmf 21 August, 2016 - 00:45

I reckon I would go to Sharm-ElSheikh. I went there for 2 times and I loved it so much, its weather,shops,sea and everything there. If I had the opportunity , I would go there.

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Anonymouss's picture
Anonymouss 9 July, 2016 - 16:45

I think I would go to Usa and Australia because I've never visited them and I want to visit all the continents

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GJIMEN1996's picture
GJIMEN1996 11 August, 2016 - 18:17

the country I would like to visit is Japan for its culture, anime and it has beautiful sceneries

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Anita23's picture
Anita23 6 June, 2016 - 02:06

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 Holland. It's my dream since I was five years old, and I think it is a wonderful city for tourists.

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Doughnut's picture
Doughnut 17 May, 2016 - 13:48

If I had enough budget, I would love to travel to Italy.
My dream since when I'm a 3rd grader.

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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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