There are three kinds of condition :
- Open Condition, i.e., a condition which may or may not be fulfilled; as,
If it rains, the match will not be played. (It may rain, or it may not, we do not know.)
Unless you work harder, you will not pass the examination.
If you do not work harder, you will not pass the examination.
NOTE 1: If the reference is to be present we use the present tense in both the conditional and the main clause.
If I eat butter, it causes me indigestion.
If water freezes, it turns to ice.
If you press the wrong button, you lose your money.
NOTE 2: If the reference is to the future, the present tense is used in the conditional clause and the future tense in the main clause. If I have time, I shall visit the exhibition.
If I find anything wrong, I shall inform you.
When the main clause gives an order or an instruction, the future tense is, of course, replaced by the imperative. ‘
If yon meet her, ask her how her parents are getting on.
If it rains, remind him to take his umbrella.
If he is not ill tell him to do his homework.
NOTE 3: If the reference is to the past, two patterns are possible :
- If the reference is to something that is general or habitual the past tense is used in both clauses.
If the Commissioner received any complaints, he himself investigated them.
If there were many complaints, he referred them to the Deputy Commissioner.
- If the reference is to a specific occurrence or situation in the past, then the past tense is used in the conditional clause and the future in the other clause.
We decided that, if it was fine, we would play the match.
NOTE 4: Double future is used for co-operation or request.
If you will find the purse I will reward you.
If you will collect the garments, I will press them.
NOTE 5: Notice this polite usage :
I should consider it a favour if you would lend me your scooter.
- Rejected Conditions, i.e., a condition which might have been fulfilled, but is not. The main clause has the future in the past (or conditional) tense.
If I weren’t so tired, I would go to the cinema with you.
If I had time I should visit the exhibition.
(These sentences imply that I am tired and that I have no time.)
If the reference is to the past this becomes :
If I had not been so busy, I would have gone to the cinema with you.
If I had had time, I should have visited the exhibition.
If he had worked harder, he would have passed the examination.
- Imaginary Condition, e., one which could not be true (I fI were you):
If I were you, I should buy a car.
If I were a millionaire I woald kelp the poor.
What would you do if you were attacked by a robber?
Short Inverted Variations: These xtccur in each form. ‘If’ is left out and ‘should’, ‘were’ and ‘had’ are placed before their subject.
- Should he hear of your marriage he v ~ aid be surprised.
- Were he to see you (=If he were to see y ju, should he see you), he would be surprised.
- Had you worked harder, you would have passed the examination.
Exercise 1: Put a tick mark ( •/ ) against the clause which correctly completes the sentence:
Exercise 2: Fill in the blanks with the correct forms of the verbs given brackets: ,
- If you had asked me to do it, I ‘ (do) it. ‘
- If he stays in Paris for three or four years, he (leam) to speak French well.
- If it________ (not be) stormy, we should have reached the top of the mountain.
- If it rains, the sports meeting____ (postpone).
- I should have given them more money if I__ (have) more.
- If I sent the letter on Monday, he ________ (will) get it on Tuesday.
- If I had had time, I________ (visit) the exhibition.
- If he had studied harder, he________ (pass) the examination.
- If I weren’t so tired, I____ (go) for a walk with you.
- If had not been so tired, I_______ ___ (go) for a walk with you.
- If I were a millionaire, I________ (help) generously the poor.
- We could have started dinner if only Tony________ (be) there.
- If he_________ (be) more careful, the accident would not have hap pened.
- If he_________ (not work) harder, he would have failed.
- If only we had reached two minutes earlier, we________ (catch) the train.