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Transcript of Conditional Sentences
A conditional sentence is an imprisonment (jail) sentence, except that the offender serves the sentence outside of jail, under strict, jail-like conditions.
Conditional sentences are sometimes called “house arrest,” because they often require an offender to spend all or part of the sentence in their house. Just like imprisonment, a conditional sentence will result in a conviction being registered against the offender.
There are restrictions on when a judge can impose a conditional sentence. A judge can only impose a conditional sentence if:
• the sentence of imprisonment is less than two years;
• the offender has not been convicted of a criminal offence that requires a minimum amount of jail time;
• the offender has not been convicted of a serious personal injury offence, a terrorism offence, or a criminal organization offence prosecuted by way of indictment for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more;
• the judge is satisfied that letting the offender serve the sentence in the community would not threaten the safety of the community;
• the judge is satisfied that having the offender serve the sentence in the community is consistent with the sentencing principles of the Criminal Code.
- Lindsay Lohan
- Roman Polanski
- Martha Stewart
- Bernie Madoff
- Paris Hilton
- Andy Dick
- Bobby Brown
* If only . . .
Time travel in a sentence? Who knew?
Imagine the possibilities!
a.k.a. That Jerk Who's Always Right
Predict the future!
Conditional sentences show a cause-and-effect relationship between actions, where the first action results in the second.
"If you build it, they will come."
- Field of Dreams (1989)
A common error ESL students make is to put "will" in the "if"-clause:
If you will (
) study more, your English will get better.
When the condition (or imaginary scenario) is present and ongoing, we use the present progressive tense in the "if"-clause:
We can then complete the sentence using "will" and the base verb, the imperative, or using a different modal auxiliary with the base verb:
her up. [will + simple future]
her up. [imperative]
her up. [modal + simple future]
Note that not all verbs can be used in the imperative and still make sense:
When we wish to emphasize that the condition (or imaginary scenario) is finished, we use the present perfect tense in the "if"-clause:
the test, ...
We can then complete the sentence using "will" and the base verb, using the imperative, or using a different modal auxiliary with the base verb:
him. [will + simple future]
him. [modal + simple future]
Usually, we teach ESL learners that the if-clause in a first conditional sentence contains the simple present tense, but in fact, it may also be formed using the present perfect, the present continuous, or the present perfect continuous.
First conditional sentences are used to describe situations that are
For Advanced Learners
For Advanced Learners
Usually, we teach ESL learners that the if-clause in a third conditional sentence contains the past perfect tense, but in fact, it may also be formed using the past perfect continuous tense.
Watch those tenses!
Though both clauses are in the present tense in a zero conditional sentence, ESL learners commonly make the mistake of putting "will" in the main clause:
If people eat too much, they
) get fat.
As this form creates a prediction rather than a general fact, the resulting sentence is a first conditional.
starring . . .
A second conditional sentence is used to describe a situation that is
(though it is often one that is implausible).
“If women didn’t exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.”
- Aristotle Onassis
unless, provided that, as long as, in case
" is used in conditional sentences to mean "if not":
I'll meet you in the library
Jeff is there.
I'll meet you in the library if Jeff is not there.)
" and "
as long as
" are used to mean "if" or "on condition that":
I will go to the library
Jeff has showered that day
(= on condition that Jeff has showered).
We will meet in the library
as long as
Jeff doesn't see us
(= only if Jeff doesn't see us)
" is used to indicate that something might happen or might be true:
We'd better run away quickly after class
Jeff gets upset
(= because Jeff might get upset).
Learners often make the mistake of putting ‘would’ in the if-clause
: If I would (
) studied more, I would be in the next level by now!
The phrase "If I were you" is often used to give advice.
If I were you, I'd already be studying for the exam!
IF + simple present, WILL + base verb
WILL + base verb IF + simple present
Examples: If it rains tomorrow, I will stay home.
If we fail our test, Myroslav will be
The exam will be difficult if we don't study
She will come to the party if you invite her.
Present Perfect Continuous
When the condition was ongoing and is now (or will be) complete, we use the present perfect continuous tense in the "if"-clause:
has been studying
We can then complete the sentence:
the answers. [will + simple future]
him in our group. [modal + simple future]
For Advanced Learners
ESL learners should be taught that certain other modals can be substituted for "will" in the main clause.
In first conditionals sentences, one could substitute shall/can/could/might/may for "will," depending on the desired meaning.
IF + simple past, WOULD + base verb
WOULD + base verb IF + simple past
Examples: If I won the lottery, I would retire.
If you were going to die, what would you do?
I wouldn't do that if I were you.
We would be in trouble if there were a snowstorm.
ESL learners should be taught that certain other modals can be substituted for "would" in the main clause.
In second conditionals sentences, one could substitute should/could/might/may for "would," depending on the context.
Usually, we teach ESL learners that the if-clause in a second conditional sentence contains the simple past tense, but in fact, it may also be formed using the past continuous tense.
Second Conditional, Past Continuous
When the condition (or imaginary scenario) is in progress, we use the past progressive tense in the "if"-clause:
the spread of fruit flies,
We can then complete the sentence using "would" and the base verb, or using a different modal auxiliary with the base verb:
so many spiders.[would + present participle]
so many spiders. [modal + present participle]
When the condition (or imaginary scenario) is past and in progress, we use the past perfect progressive tense in the "if"-clause:
any spiders, . . .
We can then complete the sentence:
as a circus spider ringmaster.[would + past participle]
as a circus spider ringmaster. [modal + past participle]
Why do we use "were" instead of "was" in the if-clause?
Because we lied to you.
When we are talking about events that may not actually happen, we are using the subjunctive tense (not the simple tense). As the subjunctive tense is more rarely used than other tenses in English, it is often simpler to teach ESL students that the simple past form is used in second conditional sentences, except with the verb "to be."
In the second conditional, we usually use "were" instead of "was," even if the pronoun is I, he, she, or it.
Victor, I would wash the dishes.
Third Conditional, Perfect Continuous
A third conditional sentence is used to describe a situation that is
(because it already happened in the past).
"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses."
- Henry Ford
IF + past perfect, WOULD HAVE + past participle.
WOULD HAVE + past participle + IF + past perfect.
Examples: If I had been there, I would have died.
If it had rained, I would have gotten wet.
The teacher would have punished them if they had failed the test.
We would have regretted it if we hadn't gone to the party.
ESL learners should be taught that certain other modals can be substituted for "would have" in the main clause.
In third conditionals sentences, one could substitute should have/could have/might have/may have for "would have," depending on the context.
We could also substitute “had” for “if”:
I known it, I would not have been here.
I would not have been here
I known it.
A mixed conditional sentence is formed when the time in the condition is not the same as the time in the result.
"If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."
- Blaise Pascal
IF + past perfect, WOULD + base verb
If I had won the lottery, I would be rich.
IF + past perfect, [WOULD + base verb] or [WOULD + be + present participle]
If I had gone to the job interview, I would be working tomorrow.
IF + past simple, WOULD HAVE + past participle
If I were rich, I would have bought that Ferrari we saw yesterday.
IF + past simple, WOULD + base verb/be + present participle
If Stephen weren't so nice, he wouldn't be helping you with your homework tonight.
IF + past continuous/past simple, WOULD HAVE + past participle
If my friend weren't visiting me next week, I would have planned a trip.
IF + past continuous/past simple, WOULD + base verb
If I were going to that concert tonight, I would be very excited right now.
A zero conditional sentence is used to describe a situation that is
; the result of this condition is
(e.g. a scientific fact).
"If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?"
- William Shakespeare
IF+ present simple, present simple
Present simple + IF + present simple
Examples: If you heat ice, it melts.
If you poke a bear, it gets angry.
People get hungry if they don't eat.
My boss gets angry if I make a mistake.
In zero conditional sentences,
may be substituted for
, depending on the context.
A conditional sentence is sometimes referred to as "house arrest."
Examples that were not original were taken or adapted from:
Cook, S. (2012, February 6). Common mistakes learners make when forming conditional
sentences - Speakspeak. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://speakspeak.com/grammar- articles/common-mistakes-learners-make-when-forming -conditional-sentences
EnglishClub. (n.d.). English Conditionals. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from https://
EnglishClub. (n.d.). Subjunctive. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from https://
Ford, H. (n.d.). A quote by Henry Ford. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://
Frankish, B.E. (Producer), & Robinson, P.A. (Director). (1989). Field of Dreams [Motion
Picture]. United States of America: Universal Pictures.
Onassis, A. (n.d.). Aristotle Onassis quote. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http:/
Pascal, B. (n.d.). Quote Investigator. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from http://
Shakespeare, W. (n.d.). William Shakespeare quote. Retrieved November 30, 2014, from
Legal definition source:
Legal Aid Ontario. (n.d.). Conditional sentence ("house arrest"). Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://
Teaching suggestions adapted from:
Murcia, M., & Freeman, D. (1999). Conditional Sentences. In The grammar book: An ESL/EFL teacher's course
(2nd ed., pp. 545-69). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.
Further readings (which were not quoted or paraphrased):
Kisito, Futonge. (n.d.). English Grammar,Printable Conditional Sentences, first, second, third conditionals, zero,
mixed. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://www.esltower.com/GRAMMARSHEETS/conditionals/conditionals.html
Language Dynamics. (n.d.). Conditional Tutorial. Retrieved November 20, 2014, from http://
web english. (2012, May 27). Conditionals (zero,1st,2nd,3rd,mixed) / If clauses. Retrieved November 20, 2014,
from https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsG-dz1drgQ
Wu Man-Fat, M. (n.d.). A Look at Conditionals: Pedagogical Implications for Chinese Secondary School Students,
by Manfred Wu Man-Fat, Karen's Linguistics Issues. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://www3.telus.net/linguisticsissues/extended
YourDictionary. (n.d.). Teaching Conditionals for ESL. Retrieved December 3, 2014, from http://