4 Types of Conditional Sentences with Examples! Conditional sentences are one of the most difficult topics in grammar. A conditional sentence is a statement that expresses a proposition or hypothesis along with a consequence. The consequence is typically introduced with the word “then.”
There are four types of conditional sentences: zero, first, second, and third. Each type has a different meaning and usage.
4 Types of Conditional Sentences
1- Zero Conditional Sentences
The first type is called the zero conditional. Zero conditional sentences are used to describe scientific facts or general truths. This happens when the condition always leads to the same result.
“If you heat ice, it melts.”
“If you touch a hot stove then you will feel pain.”
The condition (touching a hot stove) and the result (feeling pain) always occur together.
2- First Conditional Sentences
First conditional sentences are used to describe possible future events. The second type, first conditional, is used when the condition is possible and often true.
“If the weather is nice tomorrow, I will go for a walk.”
“If I study for my test then I will get an A.”
In this case, studying usually leads to getting an A but there are exceptions (it’s possible to study and not get an A).
3- Second Conditional Sentences
Second conditional sentences are used to describe unlikely future events. The third type, second conditional, is used when the condition is impossible or unlikely.
“If I won the lottery, I would buy a house.”
“If aliens landed on Earth, people would be scared.”
In these examples, it’s impossible to win the lottery (for the first speaker) and aliens have not landed on Earth (so the second speaker doesn’t know what would happen).
4- Third Conditional Sentences
Third conditional sentences are used to describe past events that did not happen.
“If I had known she was coming, I would have cleaned the house.”
“If he had studied for his test, he would have gotten an A.”
In these examples, the speaker did not know she was coming (so the house was not clean) and he did not study for his test (so he got a low grade).