Monday, May 13, 2013

Quick review on conditionals (thanks to my colleague María Jesús)

Conditional sentences (OUP)

Type 1 conditional sentences

They are used to talk about a possible present or future situation and its result.

You can use any present tense in the if clause and any form of the future in the other clause.

Examples:

They won’t get a table unless theyve already booked.

Can I borrow your dictionary a moment if youre not using it?

If it stops raining, Im going to walk into town.


Type 2 conditional sentences

They are used to talk about hypothetical or improbable situations in the present or future.

You can use the past tense (simple or continuous) in the if clause and would + infinitive (or could/might) in the other clause.

Examples:

How would you know if he wasn’t telling the truth?

If we had a bit more time here, we could go on an all-day river trip.

Type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past.

Type 3 conditional sentences

Type 3 conditional sentences are used to talk about a hypothetical situation in the past.

You can use the past perfect (simple or continuous) in the if clause and would have + past participle (or could/might have) in the other clause.

Examples:

I would have picked you up if I had known what time your flight arrived.

If I’d been looking where I was going, I would’ve seen the hole in the road.


Mixed conditionals

If we want to refer to the present and the past in the same sentence, we can mix tenses from two different types of conditional, e.g.

Examples:

I wouldn’t be in this mess (type 2) if I had listened to your advice (type 3).

Jane would have left Mike by now (type 3) if she didn’t still love him (type 2).

alternatives to if in conditional sentences

We often use as long as/so long as, provided/providing (that), and on condition (that) instead of if to emphasize what must happen or be done for something else to happen.

 Examples:

I’ll tell you what happened as long as/so long as you promise not to tell anyone else.

Provided/Providing (that) the bank lends us all the money we need, we’re going to buy that flat we liked.

They agreed to lend us the car on condition (that) we returned it by the weekend.

That is often omitted in spoken English. On condition that is slightly more formal than the other expressions.

We can use whether + subject + verb + or not instead of if to emphasize something is true in either of two cases.

I’m going to sell the car whether you agree with me or not.

The word order can also be:

I’m going to sell the car whether or not you agree with me.

 We can use even if instead of if for extra emphasis.

Even if I get the job, I’m going to carry on living with my parents for a while.

We can use supposing when we ask someone to imagine that something is true or will happen. It is usually used at the beginning of a sentence.

Supposing you lost your job, what would you do?

In type 3 conditionals in formal or literary English we can invert had and the subject and leave out if. Had I known = If I had known…

Had I known that you were coming, I would have bought a bottle of wine.

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