The Conditional Tense in English

Tenses are difficult in any language, and they take a while to learn. The conditional tense is no different, regardless of what language one wishes to learn it in. This guide is meant to help you with the English conditional. Good luck and happy studying!

Zero Conditional

If + simple present = simple present

This form of the condition describes typical things - in other words, it describes general truths.

  • "If I don't eat, I get hungry."
  • "If food is cooked too long, it burns."
  • "If it rains, the ground gets wet."


Conditional Type 1

If + simple present = simple future

This refers to an actual situation that can happen. It refers to the present or future.

  • "If you don't get up on time, you will be late for school."
  • "If you don't do your homework, you won't get a good grade.."
  • "If you don't call her, she will be upset."


Conditional Type 2

If + simple past = present conditional or present continuous conditional

This tense refers to either the immediate present (now) or anytime, but is hypothetical or unreal.

  • "If it was hot outside, you would need to dress accordingly."
  • "If you got up sooner, you wouldn't be late."
  • "If I spoke Spanish, I could go to Mexico."


Conditional Type 3

If + past perfect = perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional

This tense refers to something in the past that could never have happened.

  • "If you had studied, you could have passed the exam."
  • "If you had eaten, you would not have been grouchy."
  • "If I had stopped her, she wouldn't have left."


Mixed Conditional

If + past perfect or simple past = present conditional or perfect conditional

This tense is used to describe a time in the past and a situation that is ongoing into the present.

  • "If I had studied harder, I would have a better grade now."
  • "If we had listened to Dad, we would be safer now."
  • "If I hadn't been afraid, we would have finished the mission already."



Good luck with your studies! Don't let the conditional tense scare you - it's not so bad once you get the hang of it!
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Hello everyone! My name is Quintera Quinn, but I prefer Quinn. Nice to meet you! :) If you're looking for an instructor to help with your English studies, I'm happy to help! ABOUT ME I am 25 (my video is a little old - will be updated soon), I live in the United States, and English is my native language. I've been teaching English in various ways since 2015. I taught in China for a month-long summer camp between my college semesters in both July 2015 and July 2016. I lived in South Korea for a year and a half, 2018 - 2020. While living there, I taught English to middle school students. I've taught on various online platforms including PalFish and SkimaTalk. Verbling is where I've come to feel the most happy; I love it here! :) I graduated from Indiana University Southeast with a major in English, a minor in Music, and an Honors minor. I'm currently in graduate school working on a master's degree in Education, and afterwards, I would like to pursue a Ph.D in English! I teach at t...
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Hello everyone! My name is Quintera Quinn, but I prefer Quinn. Nice to meet you! :) If you're looking for an instructor to help with your English studies, I'm happy to help! ABOUT ME I am 25 (my video is a little old - will be updated soon), I live in the United States, and English is my native language. I've been teaching English in various ways since 2015. I taught in China for a month-long summer camp between my college semesters in both July 2015 and July 2016. I lived in South Korea for a year and a half, 2018 - 2020. While living there, I taught English to middle school students. I've taught on various online platforms including PalFish and SkimaTalk. Verbling is where I've come to feel the most happy; I love it here! :) I graduated from Indiana University Southeast with a major in English, a minor in Music, and an Honors minor. I'm currently in graduate school working on a master's degree in Education, and afterwards, I would like to pursue a Ph.D in English! I teach at t...
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