Grammar Intermezzo – Conditional Clauses

Conditional Clauses is often a problem to many Indonesian students when learning English. They got confused with which one to use and how to use it. Now, let’s take a look at some explanation about the clauses here:

There are THREE TYPES of Conditional Clauses to start with:

Conditional Clause Type 1
→ It is possible and also very likely that the condition will be fulfilled.

Form: if + Simple Present, will-Future
Example 1: If I find her address, I’ll send her an invitation.
Example 2: If I wake up late, I’ll miss the school bus.

Conditional Clause Type 2
→ It is possible but very unlikely, that the condition will be fulfilled; or, imagining the impossible.

Form: if + Simple Past, Conditional I (= would + Infinitive)
Example 1: If I found her address, I would send her an invitation.
(reality: it’s very hard to find her address.)
Example 2: If I were Superman, I would fly around the world.
(reality: can you actually be a Superman?)

Conditional Clause Type 3
→ It is impossible that the condition will be fulfilled because it refers to the past.

Form: if + Past Perfect, Conditional II (= would + have + Past Participle)
Example 1: If I had found her address, I would have sent her an invitation.
(reality: you couldn’t find her address, so you didn’t send her an invitation.)
Example 2: If I had remembered to bring my umbrella, I wouldn’t have gotten wet yesterday.
(reality: you forgot to bring your umbrella, so you got wet yesterday)


Now let’s take a look more on how we can actually USE ALL THREE TYPES of  CONDITIONAL CLAUSES in daily conversation:

On my way to work. At a bus stop with a friend.
Friend: Will you sit down on the bus?
Me: If there’s an empty seat on the bus, yes, I will sit down.

On the bus, packed.
Friend: Why aren’t you sitting down?
Me: If there were an empty seat on this bus, of course I would sit down.

Reached destination. We get off the bus.
Friend: Why didn’t you sit down on the bus?
Me: If there had been an empty seat on the bus, I would have f****** sat down.

Now tell me …. what does that story teach you? The proper use of conditional clauses?

Noooooooooo … it tells you never to travel with a friend who keeps asking you foolish questions …. 😛


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