Present Unreal Conditional FORM [If ... SIMPLE PAST ..., ... would + VERB ...] or [... would + VERB ... if ... SIMPLE PAST ...] USE The Present Unreal Conditional is used to talk about what you would do in imaginary situations in general. EXAMPLES: If I had a car, I would drive to work. But I don't have a car. She would travel around the world if she had more money. But she doesn't have much money. I would read more if I didn't have a TV. Mary would move to Japan if she spoke Japanese. If they worked harder, they would earn more money. What would you do if you won the lottery? I would travel. Where would you live if you moved to the U.S.? I would live in Seattle. EXCEPTION If I were ... In the Present Unreal Conditional, the form "was" is not considered grammatically correct. In written English or in testing situations, you should always use "were." However, in everyday conversation, "was" is often used. EXAMPLES: If he were French, he would live in Paris. If she were rich, she would buy a yacht. I would play basketball if I were taller. I would buy that computer if it were cheaper. I would buy that computer if it was cheaper. NOT CORRECT (But often said in conversation.) EXCEPTION Conditional with Modal Verbs There are some special Conditional forms for modal verbs in English: would + can = could would + shall = should would + may = might The words "can," "shall" and "may" must be used in these special forms; they cannot be used with "would." EXAMPLES: If I went to Egypt, I would can learn Arabic. NOT CORRECT If I went to Egypt, I could learn Arabic. CORRECT If she had time, she would may go to the party. NOT CORRECT If she had time, she might go to the party. CORRECT The words "could," should," "might" and "ought to" include conditional, so you cannot combine them with "would." EXAMPLES: If I had more time, I would could exercise after work. NOT CORRECT If I had more time, I could exercise after work. CORRECT If he invited you, you really would should go. NOT CORRECT If he invited you, you really should go. CORRECT IMPORTANT : Only use "If" Only the word "if" is used with the Present Unreal Conditional because you are discussing imaginary situations. "When" cannot be used. EXAMPLES: I would buy that computer when it were cheaper. NOT CORRECT I would buy that computer if it were cheaper. CORRECT Present Real Conditional FORM [If / When ... SIMPLE PRESENT..., ... SIMPLE PRESENT ...] or [... SIMPLE PRESENT ... if / when ... SIMPLE PRESENT...] USE The Present Real Conditional is used to talk about what you normally do in real-life situations. EXAMPLES: If I go to a friend's house for dinner, I usually take a bottle of wine or some flowers. When I have a day off from work, I often go to the beach. If the weather is nice, she walks to work. Jerry helps me with my homework when he has time. I read if there is nothing on TV. What do you do when it rains? I stay at home. Where do you stay if you go to Sydney? I stay with my friends near the harbor. IMPORTANT : If / When Both "if" and "when" are used in the Present Real Conditional. Using "if" suggests that something happens less frequently. Using "when" suggests that something happens regularly. EXAMPLES: When I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach. (I regularly have days off from work.) If I have a day off from work, I usually go to the beach. (I rarely have days off from work.) Zero Conditional: certainty We use the so-called zero conditional when the result of the condition is always true, like a scientific fact. Take some ice. Put it in a saucepan. Heat the saucepan. What happens? The ice melts (it becomes water). You would be surprised if it did not. IF condition result present simple present simple If you heat ice it melts. Notice that we are thinking about a result that is always true for this condition. The result of the condition is an absolute certainty. We are not thinking about the future or the past, or even the present. We are thinking about a simple fact. We use the present simple tense to talk about the condition. We also use the present simple tense to talk about the result. The important thing about the zero conditional is that the condition always has the same result. We can also use when instead of if, for example: When I get up late I miss my bus. Look at some more examples in the tables below: IF condition result present simple present simple If I miss the 8 o'clock bus I am late for work. If I am late for work my boss gets angry. If people don't eat they get hungry. If you heat ice does it melt? result IF condition present simple present simple I am late for work if I miss the 8 o'clock bus. My boss gets angry if I am late for work. People get hungry if they don't eat. Does ice melt if you heat it?