The First Conditional Tense in English Grammar

Learning Aug 30, 2021

Knowing how to use the first conditional verb tense in English is very useful to ESL students. The first conditional tense is used to describe probable situations that will take place in the future. It is also used to make future plans, promises, threats and to give warnings. It is a verb tense used often by native speakers in English language.

English Grammar rules for first conditional tense: 

-    If /when + present simple tense + will + infinitive verb

-    It is also useful to use this structure with the words : unless, as long as, as soon as or in case.

-    If you are still unsure about its construction, take a look here: 


You can also change the word order: 

If you want to, you can put the part with will + infinitive verb at the beginning of the sentence. It will mean exactly the same thing. You won’t need the comma to separate the parts.

-    If it snows, I won’t go to shopping.

-    I won’t go shopping if it snows.

-    I’ll go to Cape Town tomorrow if I study today.

-    If I study today, I ‘ll go to Cape Town tomorrow.

-    I’ll buy the Online English course if I have enough money.

-    If I have enough money, I ‘ll buy the Online English course.

Tips for using the first conditional: 

1. You can change the meaning of your conditional sentence by replacing will with other modal verbs like can or might. 

For example:  If I learn the English grammar, I will pass the test / I can pass the test / I might pass the test. 

2. You can use can, may, or might instead of will. It will add a little more uncertainty to your sentence. Here is an example:

- We will watch Harry Potter on Netflix if Hulu is not working. (we will definitely watch on Netflix.)

- We might watch Harry Potter on Netflix if Hulu is not working. (we might watch on Netflix, or maybe we will watch a movie somewhere else, like YouTube or HBO Max.)

For more information on conditional tenses in English Grammar; find a podcast on Spotify that will explain it to you or take a look at this video: 

Happy Learning!

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