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Conditionals 1. Lesson 16. FITA course

Conditional sentences are relatively easy to understand, but hard to master.

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Lesson 16 Conditionals Part 1. FITA course.docx

What is a condition?

A condition in grammar is like a prerequisite. 

For “A” to happen, “B” must happen first. “B” is the prerequisite or condition.

This idea expressed in a sentence is what we called a “conditional”. 

So conditional structures are always made using two clauses; one clause expresses the pre-requisite and the other expresses the consequence of that pre-requisite.


  • If you come late (prerequiste), you won’t be able to get in (result). Si llegas tarde, no podrás entrar.

Notice that the order of these two sentences doesn’t affect the meaning, so I could also say: “You won’t be able to get in if you come late.”

How many types of conditional sentences are there?

There are three main types of conditional sentences, although some grammarians talk about four because they also include the “zero conditional”. That is a conditional where there isn’t really a condition.

 Let’s see an example.

If water reaches 100ºC, it boils. Si el agua alcanza los 100ºC, hierve.

Structure: If + subject + simple present tense + object + subject + simple present tense.

As you can observe, in this case if one thing occurs the other always occurs too so there are no pre-requisites. 

How can you memorise the zero conditional?

It is actually very easy to memorise because it’s the same structure in Spanish. 

Suppose you think in Spanish:

  • Si no comes, adelgazas.

That would be:

  • If you don’t eat, you lose weight.

As you can see, both sentences go in the simple present tense. Notice that the zero condition is frequently used to describe natural phenomena or general truths.

Conditional sentences are categorized according to the possibility that the condition will be fulfilled. 

Therefore, we have:

The First conditional

It’s quite likely that this condition will be fulfilled.


  • If you work harder, you will earn more money– Si trabajas más duro, ganarás más dinero.

Structure: If + subject + verb in present tense +object + subject + will + verb in the infinitive + object

As you can see, the difference in structure with the zero conditional is that the second sentence is with “will”.

How can you memorise the first conditional?

Just as with the zero condition, this type of conditional is easy to memorise because it is the same in Spanish. 

Please note that this type of conditional is much more common that the zero conditional because we use it to describe everyday situations.

Think of a sentence in Spanish:

  • Si ellos vienen a casa, los invitaré a cenar.
  • If they come round, I will invite them for dinner.

The Second conditional

It’s not quite as likely that this condition will be fulfilled.


  • If you worked harder, you would earn more money. Si trabajases más duro, ganarías más dinero.

Structure: If + subject + verb in past tense + object + subject + would (*)+ verb in the infinitive + subject +object.

(*) In the place of “would”, we can also find “could”, “should”, “might”, or “may”.

Example: If you came here, you could help me.

How can you memorise the second conditional?

Remember this rule: when we use the “subjunctive” in Spanish after “if”, in English we use the past tense. 

 For example: 

  • Si yo comiera/comiese- If I ate
  • Si él fuera/ fuese– If he went
  • Si ellos viniesen– If they came

What about the “verb to be”?

In this case use “were”, even if it is the first or third person. 

So, it is:

  • If I were young– Not if I was young
  • If he were here– Not if he was here.

For the second part of the structure, you have to remember that if we place a verb ending in –ía in Spanish, then in English we have to use “would”. Also, “could”, “should”, “might”, or “may”, can be used depending on what the condition is exactly.


  • Si él estuviera aquí, yo se lo contaría.
  • If he were here, I would tell him.
  • Si lo vieras, deberías decírselo.
  • If you saw him, you should tell him.

The Third conditional

It is not possible to fulfill this condition. 

This type of conditional is also called past conditional because it refers to something that took place in the past and that now cannot be changed.


  • If you had worked harder, you would have earned more money. Si hubieses trabajado más duro, habrías ganado más dinero.

Structure: If + subject + past perfect+ object + subject + would+ have+ pp. of the main verb +object.

As the third conditional is the most difficult to grasp, we will study the zero, the first and the second conditional in this lesson and leave the third conditional and mixed conditionals for the next lesson.


Other conditional terms

Apart from “if”, we can find other terms that are conditional. These are some examples:

In case (of)

  • In case she has done it, I will call her. En el caso de que lo haya hecho, la llamaré.

As soon as

  • I’ll go there as soon as he tells me. Iré en cuanto me lo diga.

Provided (that)

  • They’ll buy it, provided there is money. Ellos lo comprarán, siempre y cuando haya dinero.


  • When he comes, we will go out. Cuando él venga, saldremos.


It is used with negative conditions. 

  • I won’t do it unless he pays. No lo haré a menos que él pague.

When to use commas with conditional sentences?

Use comma if the “if clause” is at the beginning of the sentence.


  • If he comes, tell him to call me.

Don’t use a comma if the “if clause” is at the end of the sentence.


  • Tell him to call me if he comes.

Mastering conditionals: zero, first and second

One of the pre-requisites of mastering the conditional sentences is to master the modal verbs, the past participle of the verbs and the past perfect. Therefore, it is important that at this point you are more or less comfortable with all these aspects of the English language and, more specifically, that you know the past participles of the verbs.

I have listed the zero, first and second conditionals that can be found in chapters 5 to 19 of the audiobook. 

Please, listen to them and repeat them aloud.  Note: You must watch the video. Here you have the index of the audiobook.






Si ese caballero es rico, no hay razón para que no se case con él.

If that gentleman is rich, there is no reason not to marry him (Chap. 5)

| ɪf ðət ˈdʒentlmən z rɪtʃ | ðə z nəʊ ˈriːzən nɒt tə ˈmæri ɪm |

If dat yéntelman iss rich der iss nóu rísson not tu méri him

Si lo vieras ( a él), pensarías que es la persona más maravillosa del mundo.

If you saw him, you would think he were the most marvellous person in the world. (Chap. 5)

ɪf ju ˈsɔːr ɪm ju wʊd ˈθɪŋk hi wə ðə məʊst ˈmɑːvləs ˈpɜːsn̩ ɪn ðə wɜːld | |

If iu so him iu wud zink hi wuer de móust márvelos pérson in de wuórld

Si alguna vez te hace daño, lo mataré, dijo el muchacho.

If he ever hurts you, I will kill him, said the young man (Chap. 5)

ɪf hi ˈevə hɜːts ju | ˈaɪ wl̩ kɪl ɪm | ˈsed ðə jʌŋ mæn |

If hi éver herts iu ai wuil hil him, sed de íang man

Si uno no habla de ellos, no han ocurrido

If one doesn’t speak about them, they haven’t happened (Chap. 9)

ɪf wʌn ˈdʌznt spiːk əˈbaʊt ðəm | ˈðeɪ ˈhævn̩t ˈhæpənd |

If wuan dássent sspik ábaut dem, déi hávent hápend

Si usted intenta verlo, nunca volveré a hablarle mientras viva.

If you try to look at it, I will never speak to you as long as I live (Chap 9)

ɪf ju traɪ tə lʊk ət ɪt | ˈaɪ wl̩ ˈnevə spiːk tə ju əz ˈlɒŋ əz ˈaɪ ˈlaɪv |

If iu trai tu luk at it ai wuil never sspik tu iu ass long ass ai liv

Pero ahora no sé si le conozco a usted de verdad. Para obtener una respuesta necesitaría ver su alma.

I don’t know if I really know you. To get an answer I would need to see your soul. (Chap. 11)

ˈaɪ dəʊnt nəʊ ɪf ˈaɪ ˈrɪəli nəʊ ju | tə ˈɡet ən ˈɑːnsə ˈaɪ wʊd niːd tə ˈsiː jə səʊl |

Ai dóunt nóu if ai ríli nóu iu. Tu get an ánser ai wud nid tu si íor sóul

He escrito una carta y si usted no me ayuda, la enviaré.

I have written a letter and if you don’t help me, I will send it (Chap. 13)

ˈaɪ həv ˈrɪtn̩ ə ˈletər ənd ɪf ju dəʊnt help miː | ˈaɪ wl̩ send ɪt |

Ái háv rítn a leter and if iu dóun help mi ai wuil séndit

Si se mueve usted, le dispararé.

If you move, I’ll shoot (Chap. 15)

ɪf ju muːv | aɪl ʃuːt |

If iu muv áil shut

Sería mejor que  vaya a casa y guarde esa pistola.

It would be best if you went home and put away that pistol (Chap. 15)

ɪt wʊd bi best ɪf ju ˈwent həʊm ənd ˈpʊt əˈweɪ ðət ˈpɪstl̩ |

It wud bi bes if iu wuent houm and put ówuei dat pístol

Si él se ha escondido, no es asunto mío.

If he has hidden himself, it’s none of my business. (Chap. 18)

ɪf hi həz ˈhɪdn̩ hɪmˈself | ɪts nʌn əv maɪ ˈbɪznəs |

If hi hass híden him’self its non of mái bíssnes

Si él ha muerto no quiero pensar en ello.

If he has died, I don’t want to think about it (Chap. 18)

ɪf hi həz daɪd | ˈaɪ dəʊnt wɒnt tə ˈθɪŋk əˈbaʊt ɪt |

If hí hás daid ái dóunt wuánt tú zínk áboutit

¿Qué diría si le confesara que he asesinado a Basil?

What would you say if I confessed that I killed Basil? (Chap. 18)

ˈwɒt wʊd ju ˈseɪ ɪf ˈaɪ kənˈfest ðət ˈaɪ kɪld ˈbæz|

Wuát wud iu sei if ai kon`fest dat ai kild bássel?

Si  usted lo supiera, usted se iría.

If you knew, you would go (Chap. 18)

ɪf ju njuː | ju wʊd ɡəʊ


If iu níu, iu wud góu


To sum up:

 There are four types of conditional sentences: zero, first, second and third conditional. 

They are categorized according to the possibility that the condition will be fulfilled.

Zero conditional: No condition. Example: If you freeze water, it becomes ice

First conditional: Quite likely to happen. Example: If they send an email, I will answer them.

Second conditional: Not very likely to happen. Example: If he sold it, I would buy it.

Third conditional: Impossible. Example: If he had sold it, I would have bought it.

 Try to memorise them thinking about the equivalences between the Spanish and the English structure. For example: if in Spanish the verb after “if” is in the subjunctive mood, in English we use the Simple Past Tense. Remember: Si ella no viniese (subjunctive)- If she didn’t come (simple past tense).



Look for conditionals sentences in chapters 1 to 4.

Link to the audiobook The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Try to find conditional sentences with “when”, “unless”, “in case (of)”, “provided” also. When you find them, listen to them and say them aloud.

Translate the following sentences 

  1. Si yo tuviese que ir no iría
  2. Le daré (a ella) este sobre en caso de que (ella) venga
  3. Si no lo dejas claro, él se marchará
  4. (Él) Lo aceptará siempre y cuando tú cedas
  5. No vendrá a menos que la llames
  6. Si (ella) llamase diciendo que está enferma,  le diría que fuese al médico
  7. Yo no querría ir si yo estuviese en su lugar (de él).
  8. ¿Confesaría si yo te lo pidiera?
  9. ¿Vendrán si las llamas?
  10. Si es fácil, hazlo.

Check your answers here.

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