First Conditional: Real Possibility

With the First Conditional we are thinking about the future, and talking about a condition that is likely to happen and the possible result of this condition.

There is always a very real chance that the condition will happen.

For example, you get up in the morning and plan to go for a run, but the sky is getting cloudy.  It’s not raining right now, but you think it might rain later.  What will you do?  If it rains, I will stay at home.

We use the Present Simple tense to talk about the condition.  We use will + base verb or  modal + base verb or imperative to talk about the result.

We don’t usually use “will” or “won’t” in the “if” clause.

IF Condition Result
If I see Mary I will tell her.
If Tara is free tomorrow invite her.
If they do not pass their exam their teacher will be sad.
If she gets up early she can catch the bus.
If it rains tomorrow what will you do?


Result IF Condition
I will tell Mary if I see her.
He will buy me lunch if he sees me tomorrow.
They can visit the pyramids if they go to Mexico.
Stay at home if it rains tomorrow.
What will you do if he doesn’t call you?

Introduction to Conditionals

There are four basic English conditionals that we use to express possible or imaginary situations: Zero, First, Second, and Third.

Conditional sentences contain two clauses: the “if” (condition) clause, and the “resultclause. All conditionals have two easy, possible structures and either structure can be used without changing the meaning.  We can put the “if” clause first, or the “result” first.  Note that we only use a comma when the “if” clause come first.

For example: If a certain condition is true, then a specific result happens.

IF Condition Result
IF x = 10, 2x = 20


For example: A specific result happens if a certain condition is true.

Result IF Condition
2x = 20 IF x = 10


Here’s a little chart to help you visualize.

Probability Conditional Example When
100% Zero Conditional If I don’t eat for a long time, I get very hungry. Any Time
~50% First Conditional If she sees him, she will tell him the news. Future
~10% Second Conditional If he studied harder, he would graduate with honours. Future
0% Third Conditional If they had gone to Hawaii, they would have surfed everyday. Past