Meet Our Academic Team: Conditionals and If Clauses Lesson
Welcome back to our monthly grammar series, written for you by our passionate Kaplan instructors. This week’s grammar lesson on conditionals and if clauses is brought to you by Gabriella Portalatin, a teacher at our New York Empire school in NYC.
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Conditionals and If Clauses
We all think about what we are going to do in the future, whether it is figuring out our weekend or deciding what to make for dinner. But things don’t always go as planned. Understanding that other things may affect the course of events in our day, we make conditional plans:
> If it rains tomorrow, I’ll stay home.
> If I hadn’t stayed up so late last night I wouldn’t be so tired.
What is a Conditional?
The above sentences are examples of conditionals. Conditionals are extremely important in the English language because they help us express things that may happen in the present and future. Conditionals serve many purposes and take several different forms. They can be used to give advice, express regret and discuss facts, among other things.
Grammatically, the forms of all conditionals look different; but they always have two clauses in common. A clause is a piece of a sentence that contains a subject and verb. In conditional sentences, there are two clauses: the If Clause and the Main Clause (sometimes called the Result Clause).
Take a look at this example:
> If I were you, I would study harder for my test.
The first half of the sentence (before the comma) is the If clause. The last part of the sentence (after the comma) is the Main clause.
If Clause = the condition (what is going to happen)
Main Clause = the results of these conditions (what will happen if the condition comes true)
Let’s Talk More About Conditionals
Present Real Conditional
We use this conditional to talk about habits (things that happen again and again) and facts (things that are true).
> If you heat water, it boils.
Future Real Conditional
This is used to talk about what will or won’t happen in the present and future. These events are possible, which is why we call it a real conditional.
> If I study, I’ll pass my test.
Present + Future Unreal Conditional
This conditional is used to talk about present and future events that that are unlikely or unreal, plus their results.
> If I were rich, I would live in a castle.
This is also known as the advice conditional because it’s the one we use to give advice, ideas and suggestions:
> If I were you, I would travel to Spain.
Past Unreal Conditional
The past unreal conditional is used to talk about past events and their results. It mainly used to discuss past events we regret and wish we could change.
> If I had gone to medical school, I would have become a doctor.
One last question you may have is when to use each modal: would, might or could? In general, we follow these rules/patterns:
Would = certain
Might= less certain
Do you feel confident about your comprehension of conditionals? Show us some of your new English grammar skills by posting some examples in the comment section. Similarly, if you have any questions, post them below and we will be happy to help you out.