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Grammar Reference. Unit 8

8.2 Time clauses

Conjunction of time (when, as soon as, before, until, after) are not usually followed by will. We use a present tense even though the time reference is future.

I'll call you when I get home.
As soon as dinner is ready, I'll give you a call.
Can I have a word with you before I go?
Wait until I come back.

We can use the Present Perfect if it is important to show that the action in the time clause is finished.

When I've read the book, I'll lend it to you.
I'll go home after I've done the shopping.

8.3 Zero conditional

Zero conditional sentences refer to "all time", not just the present or future. They express a situation that is always true. If means when or whenever.

If you spend over 50$ at that supermarket, you get a five percent discount.

8.4 Second conditional

Form: if + Past Simple + would

If I won some money, I'd go around the world.
My father would kill me if he could see me now.

I'd give up my job if I didn't like it.
If I saw a ghost, I wouldn't talk to it.

What would you do if you saw someone shoplifting?
If you needed help, who would you ask?

Note that was can change to were in the conditional clause.

If I were rich, I wouldn't have to work.
If he were rich, he wouldn't have to work.


1. We use the second conditional to express an unreal situation and its probable result. The situation or condition is improbable, impossible, imaginary, or contrary to known facts.

If I were the president of my country, I'd increased taxes. (But it's not very likely that I will ever be the president.)

If my mother was still alive, she'd be very proud. (But she's dead.)
If Ted needed money, I'd lend it to him. (But he doesn't need it.)

2. Other modal verbs are possible in the result clause.

I could buy some new clothes if I had some money.
If I saved a little every week, I might be able to save up for a car.
If you wanted that job, you'd have to apply very soon.

3. If I were you, I'd ... is used to give advice.
If I were you, I'd apologize to her.
I'd take it easy for a while if I were you.


8.5 First or second conditional?

Both conditionals refer to the present and future. The difference is about probability, not time. It's usually clear which conditional to use. First conditional sentences are real and possible, second conditional sentences express situations that will probably never happen.

If I lose my job, I'll ... (My company is doing badly. There is a strong possibility of being made redundant.)
If I lost my job, I'd ... (I probably won't lose my job. I'm just speculating.)

If there is a nuclear war, we'll all ... (Said by a pessimist.)
If there was a nuclear war, ... (But I don't think it will happen.)


Notice the use of would in the following sentences:

She'd look better with shorter hair. (= If she cut her hair, she'd look better.)

would to express preference

I'd love a cup of coffee.
Where would you like to sit?
I'd rather have coffee, please.
I'd rather not tell you, if that's all right.
What would you rather do, stay in or go out?

would to express a request

Would you open the door for me?
Would you mind lending me a hand?