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Learning English: The First Conditional

Updated on February 2, 2016

The First Conditional...

There are many grammar forms in the English language and learning them can be quite tricky. Below you're going to see and explanation of the first conditional. I am an English teacher and this is designed to help my students and anyone else who wishes to learn English, or indeed know English grammar better :)

The first conditional is used to describe something that is real, likely or even probable, such as:

"If I live to Paris, I will need to learn some French"

This is a logical conclusion as Paris is the capital of France and you will need to speak French. The first conditional is used to talk about the future.

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How is it formed?

The first conditional is formed like this:

If + present, will + infinitive without to

"If it gets colder tonight, I will turn on the heating"

so: if + gets, will + turn

Here the meaning of the sentence implies that the speaker believes it will actually get colder tonight, so the speaker is probably in winter.

Notice that there is a comma (,) after If + present.

When you put the 'if clause' first you must use a comma, but if you switch them you do not use a comma. Let me show you:

"If it gets colder tonight, I will turn on the heating"

"I will turn on the heating if it gets colder tonight"

Notice in the second sentence there is no comma. Also see here it is talking about the future again.

We can use it with different forms of the present such as present perfect, present simple and continuous:

"If you haven't asked her to do it, I will tell her"

"If you aren't going to party, I won't go either"

In the 'future clause' (the part that uses 'will') we can replace the simple future with 'going to' or 'future perfect'

"If I see him first, I'm going to surprise him"

"If I don't get a new job soon, I will have spent all savings"

You can even replace 'will' with the modal verbs such as 'Must' and 'can'

"If you visit London, you must stay in the Savoy" (giving a strong recommendation)

"If you really want to buy a new dress, you can do it tomorrow"

When can I use it?

Well the first conditional is used to talk about something that is likely or probable to happen in the near or distant future -

If I go to New York, I will visit the Statue of Liberty"

We can use it with different forms of the present such as present perfect, present simple and continuous:

"If you haven't asked her to do it, I will tell her"

A link to a song that uses the first conditional

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about the first conditional, or anything else in the English language

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