1. Zero conditional - the basic principle
Zero Conditionals - the classic rule
Exercise 1 - Match the sentences to their functions below
|1.||If water is heated to 100°C, it boils.|
|2.||If you are out of work you are entitled to unemployment benefit.|
|3.||If you click on the the blue button, the answers appear.|
|4.||If the weather's not too bad, I cycle to work.|
|5.||If the traffic light changes to amber, drivers have to stop.|
|a||facts, general truths|
|d||habits and routines|
2. Zero conditionals have the following characteristics:
- They usually have the same tense in both condition clause and result clause.
- We can usually replace if with when or whenever.
- If / When / Whenever I'm in town, I visit my aunt.
- If / When / Whenever the weather is fine, we go to the park.
- If / When / Whenever you buy two, you get an extra one free.
- When we use the word you in Zero Conditional, it often refers to people in general, not somebody in particular.
- What do you do if you have some free time? (you = you)
- What do you need if you want to make a model airplane? (you = people in general)
- We can sometimes use unless instead of if not
- Unless it's raining, I usually go for a walk in the forest on Saturdays.
- People can't fish in this river unless they have a permit.
3. Extending the classic rule
A. Zero Conditional with modals
Exercise 2 - Fill the gaps with the modals given
|1.||If people want to be fit, they take daily exercise.|
|2.||He read unless he wears glasses.|
|3.||If you drive on the motorway, you have a full driving licence.|
|4.||You cross the road when the little man is red. Wait till he turns to green.|
|5.||You get sometimes get a discount if you have a loyalty card.|
|6.||If someone has high blood pressure, they drink coffee.|
|7.||You to see your doctor if you get severe headaches.|
B. Zero conditional with imperatives
Exercise 3 - Fill the gaps with the imperatives given
|1.||If you go to London, a trip on the London Eye.|
|2.||If you get stung by nettles, a dock leaf on the sting.|
|3.||If you go on holiday, to cancel the newspaper delivery.|
|4.||If you drink, don't .|
|5.||If you're ever in town, come and see us.|
|6.||If you take any medicine, always sure you read the instructions first.|
|7.||If you are cooking kidney beans, them overnight in cold water.|
C. - Other present tenses in the if-clause
- If I'm driving, I always wear my driving glasses.
- If I've eaten too much for lunch, I tend to feel sleepy in the afternoon.
D. Revised rule for Zero conditional
4. Real conditionals and Unreal conditionals
Real conditionals include:
- General conditions in the present (Zero conditional)
present ... present / modal / imperative
If it's raining, I usually take the bus.
- Present or future probability (First conditional)
present ... will, going to / modal / imperative
If it's raining, we'll take the bus.
- General conditions in the past (Zero in the past - see below)
Past simple / Past continuous ... past
If he was late for work, he took a taxi.
- Past conditions (when we don't know if they've been fulfilled yet) with present or future result
Present perfect / Past simple / Past continuous ... will, going to / modal / imperative
If he managed to catch the early train, he should be here any minute.
- Various constructions, where the result is dependent on the condition being fulfilled, but which don't quite fit the patterns of First conditional
If it stops raining, why don't we go for a walk?
- Various other constructions, including false conditions, where the condition has already been fulfilled, and psuedo conditions where the result is not dependent on the condition being fulfilled. These often mix time references and tenses.
If you don't like seafood, you should have said.
If you're hungry, there's some ham and cheese in the fridge.
Unreal conditionals include:
- Present or future condition when something is unlikely or hypothetical (Second conditional)
past ... would / modal / imperative
If it were't so far, we could walk.
- Past condition with impossible result (Third conditional)
Past perfect ... would / could have
If he hadn't missed the train, he could have got there on time.
- Mixed conditionals
If he hadn't missed the train, he would be here by now.
If he wasn't so slow, he would have caught the train.
5. Zero or First Conditional?
Case study 1
- If he gets there before me, ask him to wait.
- If I'm late for dinner, start eating without me.
- Many teachers and experts accept an imperative in the result clause as an acceptable form in Zero Conditional.
- In some circumstances a Zero Conditional can look exactly like a First Conditional
- If I'm late for dinner (any day), start eating without me. (Zero Conditional)
- If I'm late for dinner (tonight), start eating without me. (First Conditional)
Case study 2
- If you are ever in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, you must visit the Taj Mahal
6. Zero in the Past?
- If he were sorry, he'd apologise.
- If he was sorry, he apologised.
- When(ever) he was sorry, he apologised.
Let's have an additional sub-category - Zero in the past
- If he came to see us, he always brought a present for Charlie.
- If we didn't feel like doing it, we didn't do it. It was as simple as that.
- If she visited Paris, the first thing she used to do was go to the Louvre.
- In Victorian times, if somebody didn't have a job, they often ended up in the poorhouse.
- If he wasn't working at the weekend, he would go into the mountains.
7. Zero in the Past or Second Conditional?
- If she visited Paris, she would go to the Louvre.
Zero in the past - Every time she visited Paris in the past, she used to go to the Louvre. (visited = real past, would = past habit)
- If she visited Paris, she would go to the Louvre.
2nd conditional - If at some time in the future she gets the opportunity to visit Paris (which she seems to think unlikely), she intends to visit the Louvre.(visited = unreal past, would = past of will)
An overall view of conditionals
Links - Related posts
- Random conditionals quiz
- More on conditionals - 3rd and Mixed
- Maybe if we sang a song we'd learn conditionals quicker
- Pseudo conditionals
- Conditionals in The Little Prince
- If you thought that, you thought wrong - if clauses
- Conditionals in Beyoncé's - If I were a boy
- Joan Osborne - One of us - Second conditional