Conditional Sentences - Explanation with Examples
A conditional sentence denotes two actions, one followed by another and one action dependent on the other. One action happens in the situation when the other action takes place or has taken place. One part of the sentence containing condition is called conditional clause and the other part on which this part is dependent is called main clause of the sentence. Generally the conditional part of the sentence starts with the word 'if'. The conditional part may be in the beginning or in the latter part of the sentence. The following facts illustrate the point.
If the reference is to the present, present tense in both the conditional and the main clause is used.
If I eat raw fruit, I fall ill.
I fall ill if I eat raw fruit.
This sentence gives a general statement of a situation which may or may not happen. In this sentence the latter action is to take place only if the action of the first part takes place. Both the parts of this sentence are in Present Indefinite Tense as the sentence tells about action in present time.
If the reference is to the past, two patterns are used :
1. If something in general or of habitual nature happens, past tense in both the conditional and the main clause is used.
If she had any doubt,she got it cleared.
If the reference is to the specific occurrence or situation in the past,then the past tense is used in the conditional and the "future in the past" in the main clause is used.
If I went out in rain I would fall ill.
This sentence tells that if one action had happened in past the other action dependent on it had also happened. In this case the first part is in Past Indefinite Tense and the dependent part is also in past tense with modal verb 'would'. It means if you had gone out in rain you would have fallen ill.
Both actions relate to past time.
If the reference is to the future, present tense in the conditional and future tense in the main clause is used.
If you go out in rain you will fall ill.
This sentence tells about actions taking place in future. One action is dependent on the second action. In this case the part containing condition is in Present Indefinite Tense and the second part of the sentence is in Future Indefinite Tense.
If the main sentence contains instructions, request or order, the future tense is replaced by imperative form in the main sentence.
If you meet them, pay my respects to them.
In this sentence the conditional part is in present indefinite tense and the main part is in imperative form. This sentence tells about action in future and the action may or may not happen.
It can be in the form of request also.
If you meet them please pay my respects to them.
If the condition is such that a thing was supposed to happen but it did not happen the conditional clause is in past or past perfect tense and the main clause is in past future tense.
If you worked hard you would pass.
If you had worked hard you would have passed.
If I were not so busy I would accompany you.
If I had not been so busy I would have accompanied you.
In this case both the actions were to take place in the past but did not happen nor will they happen in future. It is an imaginary situation of an action of past.
The conditional clause can be in both active or passive voice.
What would you do if a robber attacked you?
What would you do if you were attacked by a robber?
What would have you done if a robber had attacked you?
What would have you done if you had been attacked by a robber?
If the condition is such that the situation is imaginary and untrue, in conditional clause past tense is used.
If I were rich, I would help the poor.
If I were you, I would pardon him.
In certain cases, "if" is left out and in its place "Had, Should, or would" are placed before the subject in the sentence.
Had you worked hard you would have passed.
Should it rain, we would not play the match.
Fill in the blank in the following sentences with an appropriate option out of the given ones.
1. If he had asked me to return his book............
a. I would return it to him.
b. I had returned it to him.
c. I would have returned it to him.
2. If the driver were more careful........
a. the accident was averted.
b. the accident would have been averted.
c. the accident had averted.
3. Had I not been so tired........
a. I would accompany you for a walk.
b. I had accompanied you for a walk.
c. I would have accompanied you for a walk.
4. If you walked a little faster..........
a. you would catch the train.
b. you had caught the train.
c. you would have caught the train.
5. What would you do...........
a. if a robber attacked you.
b. if a robber had attacked you.
c. if a robber would attacked you.
(to be continued)