The conditionals: first, second and third

Conditionals are structures used conditionalsin English grammar to describe events or states that may happen/be true in the present and future, or that might have happened/been true in the past. In this post the first, second and third conditionals are presented.

 

  • The first conditional (if + present simple, will + infinitive)

    Refers to the present or future; what is said in the condition is possible.

    If I graduate with a first class degree, I will receive a scholarship.
    (I believe that I can graduate with a first class degree)
    If they play in the final, Djokovic will win.
    If you give us the loan, we will complete the project on time.

 

  • The second conditional (if + past simple, would + infinitive)

    Refers to the present; what is said in the condition is unreal or unlikely.

    If I graduated with a first class degree, I would receive a scholarship.
    (I don’t believe that I can graduate with a first class degree)
    If they played in the final, Djokovic would win.
    If you gave us the loan, we would complete the project on time.

 

  • The third conditional (if + past perfect, would have + past participle)

    Refers to the past; what is said in the condition did not happen.

    If I had graduated with a first class degree, I would have received a scholarship.
    (I didn’t graduate with first class degree, so I didn’t receive the scholarship)
    If they had played in the final, Djokovic would have won.
    If you had given us the loan, we would have completed the project on time.

 

* Note

You can reverse the order (result + if clause) of the first, second and third conditionals but you have to remove the comma:

I will receive a scholarship if I graduate with a first class degree.
Djokovic would win if they played in the final.
We would have completed the project on time if you had given us the loan.