Tenses are difficult in any language, and they take a while to learn. The conditional tense is no different, regardless of what language one wishes to learn it in. This guide is meant to help you with the English conditional. Good luck and happy studying!
If + simple present = simple present
This form of the condition describes typical things - in other words, it describes general truths.
"If I don't eat, I get hungry."
"If food is cooked too long, it burns."
"If it rains, the ground gets wet."
Conditional Type 1
If + simple present = simple future
This refers to an actual situation that can happen. It refers to the present or future.
"If you don't get up on time, you will be late for school."
"If you don't do your homework, you won't get a good grade.."
"If you don't call her, she will be upset."
Conditional Type 2
If + simple past = present conditional or present continuous conditional
This tense refers to either the immediate present (now) or anytime, but is hypothetical or unreal.
"If it was hot outside, you would need to dress accordingly."
"If you got up sooner, you wouldn't be late."
"If I spoke Spanish, I could go to Mexico."
Conditional Type 3
If + past perfect = perfect conditional or perfect continuous conditional
This tense refers to something in the past that could never have happened.
"If you had studied, you could have passed the exam."
"If you had eaten, you would not have been grouchy."
"If I had stopped her, she wouldn't have left."
If + past perfect or simple past = present conditional or perfect conditional
This tense is used to describe a time in the past and a situation that is ongoing into the present.
"If I had studied harder, I would have a better grade now."
"If we had listened to Dad, we would be safer now."
"If I hadn't been afraid, we would have finished the mission already."
Good luck with your studies! Don't let the conditional tense scare you - it's not so bad once you get the hang of it!