"Conditional sentences" is a technical term for something you've seen may times. "If" one thing happens, "then" another thing will happen. For example, "If I drink this cup of coffee, I will feel more awake." You can also refer to these sentences as a "conditional clause" or an "if clause." It simply means that one thing is required for something else to occur or exist. Let's explore the various types of conditional sentences and review a few examples of each.
Let's start with a condition that has a pretty solid outcome. Type 0 conditionals outline situations in which one thing always causes another. If one thing occurs, something else will also occur. For example:
If you trip and fall down these stairs, you get a scrape.
If it rains, my car gets wet.
If the clock strikes midnight, it's a new day.
Note that the "if" portion of these sentences must be written in the simple present tense. The same goes for the result portion of the sentence. This is important because the simple present is used when an action is habitual or constant.
This type dictates that it's not only possible, but also very likely that one condition will lead to another. For example:
I will answer if he calls me.
If I study really hard, I'll ace this test.
If the weather is good, our crops will flourish.
You will succeed in college if you're diligent in your studies.
A Type 2 conditional sentence stands in contrast to Type 1. It indicates that it is very unlikely that a condition will be fulfilled. However, if that condition is fulfilled, the outcome is still the probable result. For example:
I would answer if he called.
If the weather improved, our crops would flourish.
If you resolved to be diligent in your studies, you would succeed in college.
Here, the "if" part must be in the simple past. The "outcome" part of the sentence is then written in the "would + infinitive verb" form; this is called the present conditional tense. Something "would happen" if some other possibility comes to fruition.
These final conditional sentences refer to an impossible condition (since it's in the past and didn't happen the way the condition describes). If, hypothetically, that condition were true, then the described outcome would be likely. Let's take a look:
I would have answered if he had called.
If the weather had improved, our crops would have flourished.
If you had resolved to be diligent in your studies, you would have succeeded in college.
This type indicates that "if" something would have happened, something else could have followed. However, since he never called, I never answered. Since the weather never improved, our crops never flourished. Since some initial event didn't take place, the latter didn't happen.
The verb tense for the conditional part of the sentence (the "if" statement) is past perfect. The verb tense for the outcome (the result statement) is perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional.
Without certain conjunctions, conditional sentences could not be possible. Conjunctions join words, phrases, and clauses together smoothly. Given this particular scenario where one thing is conditional upon another thing, it's very important to use these "joiners" or conjunctions. Common conditional conjunctions include:
Remember that conditional sentences are also referred to as "if clauses." So, the primary conjunction in these times will be "if." For more, check out this article on Conditional Conjunctions.
So much in life is conditional. In order for one thing to happen, something else must take place. Or, conversely, since one thing didn't happen, something else can never take place. Conditional sentences are merely another tool in our kit, allowing us to lay out certain parameters in our writing. In order to link two conditions together, conjunction are often beneficial. For more on these connectors, enjoy getting acquainted with the various Types of Conjunctions you can use in your writing.