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The First Conditional

09 Jul 2021

The first conditional is one of four types of hypothetical sentence in English, and it is probably the most commonly used. In which situations can we use it and why?

When to use the first conditional

The first conditional is used to express the future consequence of a realistic possibility now or in the future. For example,

If I miss the train, I’ll take the next one.

There is a 50% chance that the first part of this sentence (the action following ‘if’) will happen. And if it happens, the second part is 100% certain.


Creating the First Conditional

To make a sentence in the first conditional, we use,

If + present simple, will/won’t + verb.

If I pass this exam, I’ll celebrate.

If I pass this exam, I won’t have to do it again.

Like all conditionals we can also invert this structure:

Will + verb if + present simple.

I’ll celebrate if I pass this exam.

I won’t have to do this exam again if I pass it.


As an alternative to will, It’s possible to complete the second part of a first conditional sentence with a modal verb or an imperative. For example,

If it rains, we can’t play tennis.

If it rains, we must postpone our game.

If it rains, wear your waterproof clothing.

The important thing to remember with the first conditional is that we can never use will near if. Will can only come in the other part of the sentence. For example,

We’ll be pleased if the client accepts our offer.

NOT

We’ll be pleased if the client will accept our offer.

Here are some other examples of the first conditional:

If you practice frequently, you’ll learn quickly.

If we don’t win today, we’ll be out of the competition.

Your teacher can help if you don’t understand something.

Call me if you’re late.

If she does well in this interview, she’ll get the job.

If you’re hungry, help yourself to whatever you want.

We won’t miss the plane if we hurry.

Our boss will be really pleased if we get this contract.

As you can see, the first conditional is used in many different situations, both in and out of the workplace. So it’s undoubtedly a structure that’s worth learning and practicing. Start now by doing this fun quiz. 

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