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Future Conditionals

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Future Conditionals

Future Real Conditional

FORM

[If / When … Simple Present …, … Simple Future …]

[… Simple Future … if / when … Simple Present …]

Notice that there is no future in the if- or when-clause.

USE

The Future Real Conditional describes what you think you will do in a specific situation in the future. It is different from other Real Conditional forms because, unlike the present or the past, you do not know what will happen in the future. Although this form is called “real”, you are usually imagining or guessing about the future. It is called “real” because it is still possible that the action might occur in the future. Carefully study the following examples and compare them to the Future Unreal Conditional examples further down the page.

Examples:

  • If I go to my friend’s house for dinner tonight, I will take a bottle of wine or some flowers.
    I am still not sure if I will go to his house or not.
  • When I have a day off from work, I am going to go to the beach.
    I have to wait until I have a day off.
  • If the weather is nice, she is going to walk to work.
    It depends on the weather.
  • Jerry will help me with my homework when he has time.
    I have to wait until he has time.
  • I am going to read if there is nothing on TV.
    It depends on the TV schedule.
  • A: What are you going to do if it rains?
    B: I am going to stay at home.

IMPORTANT If / When

Both “if” and “when” are used in the Future Real Conditional, but the use is different from other Real Conditional forms. In the Future Real Conditional, “if” suggests that you do not know if something will happen or not. “When” suggests that something will definitely happen at some point; we are simply waiting for it to occur. Notice also that the Simple Future is not used in if-clauses or when-clauses.

Examples:

  • When you call me, I will give you the address.
    You are going to call me later, and at that time, I will give you the address.
  • If you call me, I will give you the address.
    If you want the address, you can call me.

Future Unreal Conditional

FORM 1 (Most Common Form)

[If … Simple Past …, … would + verb …]

[… would + verb … if … Simple Past …]

Notice that this form looks the same as Present Unreal Conditional.

USE

The Future Unreal Conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the future. It is not as common as the Future Real Conditional because English speakers often leave open the possibility that anything MIGHT happen in the future. It is only used when a speaker needs to emphasize that something is impossible. Because this form looks like Present Unreal Conditional, many native speakers prefer Form 2 described below.

Examples:

  • If I had a day off from work next week, I would go to the beach.
    I don’t have a day off from work.
  • I am busy next week. If I had time, I would come to your party.
    I can’t come.
  • Jerry would help me with my homework tomorrow if he didn’t have to work.
    He does have to work tomorrow.

FORM 2

[If … were + present participle …, … would be + present participle …]

[… would be + present participle … if … were + present participle …]

USE

Form 2 of the Future Unreal Conditional is also used to talk about imaginary situations in the future. Native speakers often prefer this form over Form 1 to emphasize that the conditional form is in the future rather than the present. Also notice in the examples below that this form can be used in the if-clause, the result, or both parts of the sentence.

Examples:

  • If I were going to Fiji next week, I would be taking my scuba diving gear with me. In if-clause and result
    I am not going to go to Fiji and I am not going to take my scuba gear with me.
  • If I were not visiting my grandmother tomorrow, I would help you study. In if-clause
    I am going to visit my grandmother tomorrow.
  • I am busy next week. If I had time, I would be coming to your party. In result
    I am not going to come to your party.

FORM 3

[If … were going to + verb …, … would be + present participle …]

[… would be + present participle … if … were going to + verb …]

USE

Form 3 of the Future Unreal Conditional is a variation of Form 2 which is also used to talk about imaginary situations in the future. Notice that this form is only different from Form 2 in the if-clause. Native speakers use Form 3 to emphasize that the conditional form is a plan or prediction in the same way “be going to” is used to indicate a plan or prediction.

Examples:

  • If I were going to go to Fiji next week, I would be taking my scuba diving gear with me.
    I am not going to go to Fiji and I am not going to take my scuba gear with me.
  • If I were not going to visit my grandmother tomorrow, I would help you study.
    I am going to visit my grandmother tomorrow.

IMPORTANT Only use “If”

Only the word “if” is used with the Past Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.

Examples:

  • I would buy that computer tomorrow when it were cheaper. Not Correct
  • I would buy that computer tomorrow if it were cheaper. Correct

EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs

There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:

would + can = could

would + shall = should

would + may = might

The words “can,” “shall” and “may” cannot be used with “would.” Instead, they must be used in these special forms.

Examples:

  • If I went to Egypt next year, I would can learn Arabic. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. Not Correct
  • If I went to Egypt next year, I could learn Arabic. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. Correct

The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would.”

Examples:

  • If I didn’t have to work tonight, I would could go to the fitness center. Not Correct
  • If I didn’t have to work tonight, I could go to the fitness center. Correct

Future Real Conditional vs. Future Unreal Conditional

To help you understand the difference between the Future Real Conditional and the Future Unreal Conditional, compare the examples below:

Examples:

  • If you help me move tomorrow, I will buy you dinner. Future Real Conditional
    I don’t know if you can help me.
  • If you helped me move tomorrow, I would buy you dinner. Future Unreal Conditional
    You can’t help me, or you don’t want to help me.
Engleza

Past Conditionals

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Past Conditionals

Past Real Conditional

FORM

[If / When … Simple Past …, … Simple Past …]

[… Simple Past… if / when … Simple Past …]

USE

The Past Real Conditional describes what you used to do in particular real-life situations. It suggests that your habits have changed and you do not usually do these things today.

Examples: 

  • If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually took a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.
  • When I had a day off from work, I often went to the beach. Now, I never get time off.
  • If the weather was nice, she often walked to work. Now, she usually drives.
  • Jerry always helped me with my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.
  • A: What did you usually do when it rained?
    B: I usually stayed at home.

IMPORTANT Used to

The form “used to” expresses the idea that something was an old habit that stopped in the past. This form is commonly used in Past Real Conditional sentences to emphasize that something was a habit. The examples below have the same meaning as the examples above.

Examples:

  • If I went to a friend’s house for dinner, I used to take a bottle of wine or some flowers. I don’t do that anymore.
  • When I had a day off from work, I used to go to the beach. Now, I never get time off.
  • If the weather was nice, she used to walk to work. Now, she usually drives.
  • Jerry used to help me with my homework when he had time. But he doesn’t do that anymore.
  • A: What did you usually do when it rained?
    B: I used to stay at home.

IMPORTANT If / When

Both “if” and “when” are used in the Past Real Conditional. Using “if” suggests that something happened less frequently. Using “when” suggests that something happened regularly.

Examples:

  • When I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.
    I regularly had days off from work.
  • If I had a day off from work, I usually went to the beach.
    I rarely had days off from work.

Past Unreal Conditional

FORM

[If … Past Perfect …, … would have + past participle … ]

[… would have + past participle … if … Past Perfect …]

USE

The Past Unreal Conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the past. You can describe what you would have done differently or how something could have happened differently if circumstances had been different.

Examples:

  • If I had owned a car, I would have driven to work. But I didn’t own one, so I took the bus.
  • She would have traveled around the world if she had had more money. But she didn’t have much money, so she never traveled.
  • I would have read more as a child if I hadn’t watched so much TV. Unfortunately, I did watch a lot of TV, so I never read for entertainment.
  • Mary would have gotten the job and moved to Japan if she had studied Japanese in school instead of French.
  • If Jack had worked harder, he would have earned more money. Unfortunately, he was lazy and he didn’t earn much.
  • A: What would you have done if you had won the lottery last week?
    B: I would have bought a house.
  • A: What city would you have chosen if you had decided to move to the United States?
    B: I would have chosen Seattle.

IMPORTANT Only use “If”

Only the word “if” is used with the Past Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.

Examples:

  • I would have bought that computer when it had been cheaper. Not Correct
  • I would have bought that computer if it had been cheaper. Correct

EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs

There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:

would have + can = could have

would have + shall = should have

would have + may = might have

The words “can,” “shall” and “may” cannot be used with “would have.” Instead, they must be used in these special forms.

Examples:

  • If I had gone to Egypt, I could have learned Arabic.
  • If she had had time, she might have gone to the party.

The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include Conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would have.”

Examples:

  • If I had had more time, I could have exercised after work.
  • If he had invited you, you might have gone.
Engleza

Present Conditionals

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Present Conditionals

Present Real Conditional

FORM

[If / When … Simple Present …, … Simple Present …]

[… Simple Present … if / when … Simple Present …]

USE

The Present Real Conditional is used to talk about what you normally do in real-life situations.

Examples:

  • If I go to a friend’s house for dinner, I usually take a bottle of wine or some flowers.
  • When I have a day off from work, I often go to the beach.
  • If the weather is nice, she walks to work.
  • Jerry helps me with my homework when he has time.
  • I read if there is nothing on TV.
  • A: What do you do when it rains?
    B: I stay at home.
  • A: Where do you stay if you go to Sydney?
    B: I stay with my friends near the harbor.

IMPORTANT If / When

Both “if” and “when” are used in the Present Real Conditional. Using “if” suggests that something happens less frequently. Using “when” suggests that something happens regularly.

Examples:

  • When I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach.
    I regularly have days off from work.
  • If I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach.
    I rarely have days off from work.

Present Unreal Conditional

FORM

[If … Simple Past …, … would + verb …]

[… would + verb … if … Simple Past …]

USE

The Present Unreal Conditional is used to talk about what you would generally do in imaginary situations.

Examples:

  • If I owned a car, I would drive to work. But I don’t own a car.
  • She would travel around the world if she had more money. But she doesn’t have much money.
  • I would read more if I didn’t watch so much TV.
  • Mary would move to Japan if she spoke Japanese.
  • If they worked harder, they would earn more money.
  • A: What would you do if you won the lottery?
    B: I would buy a house.
  • A: Where would you live if you moved to the U.S.?
    B: I would live in Seattle.

EXCEPTION If I were …

In the Present Unreal Conditional, the form “was” is not considered grammatically correct. In written English or in testing situations, you should always use “were.” However, in everyday conversation, “was” is often used.

Examples:

  • If he were French, he would live in Paris.
  • If she were rich, she would buy a yacht.
  • I would play basketball if I were taller.
  • I would buy that computer if it were cheaper.
  • I would buy that computer if it was cheaper. Not Correct (But often said in conversation.)

IMPORTANT Only use “If”

Only the word “if” is used with the Present Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. “When” cannot be used.

Examples:

  • I would buy that computer when it were cheaper. Not Correct
  • I would buy that computer if it were cheaper. Correct

EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs

There are some special conditional forms for modal verbs in English:

would + can = could

would + shall = should

would + may = might

The words “can,” “shall” and “may” cannot be used with “would.” Instead, they must be used in these special forms.

Examples:

  • If I went to Egypt, I would can learn Arabic. Not Correct
  • If I went to Egypt, I could learn Arabic. Correct
  • If she had time, she would may go to the party. Not Correct
  • If she had time, she might go to the party. Correct

The words “could,” should,” “might” and “ought to” include conditional, so you cannot combine them with “would.”

Examples:

  • If I had more time, I would could exercise after work. Not Correct
  • If I had more time, I could exercise after work. Correct
  • If he invited you, you really would should go. Not Correct
  • If he invited you, you really should go. Correct