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Zero Conditional:

When we are thinking about facts which are generally true, we use:

If + Present Simple, Present Simple

  • If you put water in the freezer, it becomes ice.
  • If you stand in the rain, you get wet.
  • If you heat ice, it melts.

You can see in the examples about the the condition always has the same result.

Notice how we use a comma after the first present simple tense clause.

We can also reverse the order and use:

Present Simple + If + Present Simple

  • You get wet if you stand in the rain.
  • Ice melts if you heat it.
  • I can’t sleep if I drink coffee at night.
  • Plants die if you don’t water them.

Notice how the comma is not necessary with this word order.

 

First Conditional:

When we are thinking about a possible situation in the future, we use:

If + Present verb, future verb

This structure is common when talking about possible plans, promises, warnings, threats or for persuading someone. We are predicting a likely result in the future if a condition is fulfilled.

If + Simple Present, Will / Won’t …

  • If I go to Paris next month for work, I’ll visit the Eiffel Tower (Plans)
  • If I have time, I will help you. (Promise)
  • If you touch that wire, you will get an electric shock. (Warning)
  • If you eat my chocolate that is in the fridge, you’ll sleep outside with the dog.(Threat)
  • If you take me to the mall, I’ll buy you an ice cream. (Persuasion)
  • If she doesn’t go to university, her parents won’t be happy.
  • If it rains, we will cancel the trip.
  • If that candidate becomes President, the country will be in trouble.
  • If I win the competition, I will donate half of the prize money to charity.

Notice how we use a comma after the present tense clause.

We can also reverse the order and use:

Future Verb + If + Present Simple

  • I will be annoyed if they don’t arrive on time.
  • You will get a better job if you can speak English.
  • You will miss the bus if you don’t hurry.
  • The dog will bite you if you pull its tail.
  • Your boss will be angry if you don’t finish the job.
  • What will you do if they fire you?
  • You will feel better if you take this medicine.
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