Category Learning
Conditional Tenses

What are conditional tenses?

In this blog, I will be talking about the different conditional tenses, how they are formed and providing example sentences for each type. Conditional tenses are used to talked about things that could happen, what could have happened, and what we wish could happen. An easy way to spot a conditional tense, is when the word ‘if’ is used in a sentence. They also use forms of the past tense in sentences, even though we are not talking about the past. 

There are 5 different types of conditional tenses:

  1. Zero conditional
  2. Type 1/ first conditional
  3. Type 2/ 2nd conditional
  4. Type 3/ 3rd conditional
  5. Mixed type/ mixed conditional

I will now give you a breakdown on how each conditional tense is formed, when it is used and an example sentence of each.

The Zero Conditional Tense

The zero conditional tense is used to talk about general things that are true and refers to a time that is now or always and the situation is real and possible. When using the zero conditional, the tense is always present simple. 

Formation – if + present simple (if clause) followed by present simple (main clause)

Example – If you are happy, I am happy.

Conditional tenses

The 1st/ Type 1 Conditional Tense

The 1st conditional tense talks about a situation which is real and refers to the present or future. It also refers to a possible condition and a probable result. 

Formation – if + present simple (if clause) followed by future simple (main clause)

Example – If you don’t hurry up, you will be late. 

The 2nd/ Type 2 Conditional Tense

The 2nd conditional is used to talk about an unreal situation and talks about a time that is now, or anytime, and the sentences are not based on fact. We use 2nd conditional tenses to talk about hypothetical situations and probable results. 

Formation – if + past simple (if clause) followed by present conditional or present continuous conditional 

Example – If I spoke Spanish, I would be working in Spain.

The 3rd/ Type 3 Conditional Tense 

The 3rd conditional is used to talk about events in the past and are about situations or events opposite to reality. We use the 3rd conditional to talk about an unreal past condition and its probable past result. 

Formation – if + past perfect followed by perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional 

Example – If it had snowed, we would have built a snowman.

Conditional tenses

The Mixed Conditional Tense

The mixed conditional talks about a time in the past, and a situation which is ongoing in the present. It refers to an unreal past condition and the probable result in the present. 

Formation – If + past perfect or past simple (if clause) followed by present conditional or perfect conditional

Example – If you weren’t afraid of heights, we would have climbed that mountain.

Try and write some example sentences using the different conditional tenses and let me know how you get on! I will be focusing on more grammar-based blogs going forward, so keep checking my blog page for more grammar tips and help! And as always, if you want help with any specific grammar, or want to share your examples of conditional sentences, please feel free to contact me!