Monday, February 3, 2014

Conditional Statements in the IELTS Exam

“If I were you, I would stop talking.”

Conditionals are part of the English grammar. Since it is part of the English grammar, it is best for candidates of any English proficiency examinations to know what conditionals are. Conditionals are sentences comprised of two clauses – an if clause and a main clause. An if clause is a clause that starts with the subordinating conjunction IF. The main clause of the independent clause is a clause that can stand alone having a complete thought or meaning.

There are different kinds of if-clauses that can be used in different situations.

1. Type 1 Conditional

The Type 1 conditional is also known as the First Conditional. In this type, it takes about possible situations. The if- clause uses the simple present form of the verb while the main clause uses the future simple (will) and certain modals like can, might, and should.


  • If she comes home, we will cook dinner.
  • If we hurry, we might catch the 8pm bus.

Moreover, the type 1 conditional can be used in the following:

a. offerings and suggestions

  • If you need something, call me at my mobile number.
  • If she feels tired, she can use the bedroom upstairs to take some rest.

b. warnings and threats

  • If you come near me, I will shoot you.
  • I will never speak to you again if you do not say sorry.

2. Type 2 Conditional

The Type 2 Conditional refers to something unreal or for situations that are imagines. This type of conditional shows that the action is less probable. The if-clause uses the simple past while the main clause uses would, could and might.


  • If I ate too much cake, I would get fat.
  • If she won a million pesos, she might buy a new house for her family.
  • If we have enough time, we could watch a movie.

What does this conditional mean? For example, in the sentence:
"If I ate too much cake, I would get fat."
- the speaker is just imagining a situation which is eating too much cake, then the speaker imagines the best or the closest result of this eating too much cake which is getting fat. In reality, the action is not happening. It is all imagined.

3. Type 3 Conditional

This type of conditional is used to talk about imaginary situations in the past. We use this when we want to describe what would have been done differently or something could have happened if the situations had been different. The if-clause uses the past perfect (had + past participle) while the main clause uses this pattern: would/could/have + past participle.


  • Joel was in the hospital for a week. I just knew it today. If I had known that he was hospitalized, I would have visited him.
  • The trip was so interesting and really good, but I forgot my camera. I had brought my camera, I would have taken lots of pictures.

4. Zero Conditional

In the zero conditional, it expresses that IF this happens, this will be the sure result or outcome. The if-clause and the main clause both use the simple present.


  • If you freeze water, it becomes ice.
  • The lamp turns on if you turn the switch on.

Conditionals are good in showing conditions in sentences. However, choose the right conditional that will best describe that situation you want to emphasize. Have fun with conditionals. Start your practice with conditional statements by visiting this page.


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