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The First Conditional: A Complete Grammar Guide


If you would like to talk about an event which might possibly happen in the future then you will need to make use of the first conditional (the conditional sentences type 1). An example of this might be the sentence ‘If my bus is late, I will miss the movie.’ This is an important part of English grammar that will not only help you in sounding much more fluent but will also give you the opportunity to form much more complex sentences.

In this section, we are going to be looking at the first conditional in a lot more detail, enabling you to become much more confident when using it.

The First Conditional

What Is the First Conditional?

The first conditional indicates something that may happen in the present or future. It has a two clause structure. This includes an if clause and the main clause.

A comma usually separates the two clauses if the if clause precedes the main clause. The example below illustrates the comma necessity.

  • If I win the contest, I will be rich.

In contrast, when the main clause appears first there is no need for a comma. The example below shows the lack of a comma.

  • I will be rich if I win the contest.

When the main clause comes first if acts as a conjunction and joins the two clauses together.

First Conditional Structure

Like a zero conditional, a first conditional sentence consists of two clauses, an “if” clause and a main clause. We use different verb forms in each part of a first conditional.

The first conditional uses a different verb form in each clause. To construct the if clause you would write if + subject + simple present verb tense. To construct the main clause, you would write subject + will + verb.

First Conditional Form: If + Simple Present, Subject + will/won’t + Verb.

You can reverse the order of the clauses. If the “if” clause comes first, a comma is usually used. If the “if” clause comes second, there is no need for a comma

  •  I will stay at home if it rains.

First Conditional Examples

It is easy to construct the first conditional if you remember what verb form to use in each clause. It is key to remember that the main clause will use will before the verb. In contrast, the if clause only utilizes the simple verb form. Below find examples of sentences that represent the first conditional.

  • The dog will hide if he sees a cat. (It’s possible the dog could see a cat)
  • If I visit my grandma, I will go to the park. (It’s possible I could visit my grandma)
  • If I remain in Denver, I will purchase a dog. (It’s a possibility I remain in Denver.)
  • She will go to the dentist if I take her. (I may take her to the dentist)
  • I will be famous if I get a role in the film. (It’s possible that I could get a part in the film)
  • If you study hard, you will pass your exams.
  • If I find your email, I will send you the picture.
  • And, if Mary comes home, I will tell her about the exam.
  • If you cook the supper, I’ll wash the dishes.

How and When to Use the First Conditional

Conditional sentences type 1 is used to talk about things which are possible in the present or the future. It is generally used for things which may happen.

Examples of conditional sentences type 1:

  • If it rains, I will stay at home.
  • If I wake up late, I will miss the bus.
  • And, if it‘s sunny, we‘ll go to the park.
  • If Juan leaves, Paula will be sad.

We use ‘may‘ or ‘might‘ to say that the future event is possible, but not definite.

For example:

  • If you need someone to help you move, I might be able to help.
  • If it’s a sunny day tomorrow, we might have a pool party.

Sometimes we use ‘be going to’ instead of ‘will’ in the main clause. This is done to emphasize a certain result.

For example:

  • I’m going to give you twenty pounds if you fix my computer for me.
  • I’m going to stay for the weekend if you like.
  • If you are not ready, I‘m going to go out without you.

First Conditional vs. Zero Conditional vs. Second Conditional

We use conditionals to describe the consequences of a condition. The if clause states the condition while the main clause shows the result. There are three types of conditionals: zero, first, and second.

The zero conditional suggests something that is generally true. We often write rules and laws using the zero conditional. To create the zero conditional you use when/if followed by the present simple verb form. The main clause also uses the present simple verb.

Examples of the zero conditional

  • When the sun sinks, it becomes night.
  • If I run before bed, I can’t fall asleep.

We use the second conditional to express present or future conditions that are extremely unlikely to occur. To form the second conditional the if clause uses if with the past simple verb tense. The main clause consists of would plus the infinitive verb form.

Example of the second conditional

  • She would visit more if she was younger.
  • If he made more money, he would travel more.

In contrast to the above conditionals, the first conditional expresses possibility. For example, if you do something then a certain result would likely occur. This first conditional suggests what is likely to happen if a particular event occurs. As stated before the first conditional uses if in conjunction with the present simple verb form. Also, we construct the main clause with will and the infinitive form of the verb.

In addition to the above, we can create the first conditional with if alternatives. That is to say, we can use words like when, unless, as soon as, and in case instead of if. The following examples show the first conditional with an if alternative.

Examples of the first conditional

  • I’ll go as soon as the clock strikes three.
  • will not go to visit Paris unless I learn more French.
  • I‘ll leave you money for dinner in case I‘m not at home.
  • You will get paid as long as you finish your work.

The First Conditional Exercises

Exercise 1

Complete the exercise below by circling the correct answer to complete the first conditional.

  1. You ________ drunk if you consume too much alcohol. (will get or get)
  2. If you turn on the light, you ________ better. (will be able to see or are able to see)
  3. He _______ completely different if he wears a hat. (will look or looks)
  4. If you ______ water every day, you’ll be more hydrated. (will drink or drink)
  5. If we _______ stop the lies, the truth _____ prevails. (don’t/ will never or will not/never)
  6. You’ll fail the course if you _______ study. (will not or do not)
  7. If I ______ tickets to the concert, how many _______ want? (get/will you or will get/ do you)
  8. If we don’t study hard, we ______ the examination. (will fail or fail)
  9. He ________ completely different if there _______ alcohol at the party, (behaves/ will be no or will behave/ is no)
  10. I ______ to live at home, if I ______ the local college. (will want/ attend or want/ will attend)

Exercise 2

Circle the verbs that use the incorrect form for a first conditional sentence.

  1. You will get lost if you will not use a compass.
  2. If you go to the store, I will cook supper.
  3. He declines the offer if I join the team.
  4. Her heart will break if he will go to the movies with Kim.
  5. You get sad if no one likes your story.
  6. He looks small if he stands next to Tom.
  7. If I will go to the market, you will eat better.
  8. If you turn off the light, no one will be able to see you hiding in the dark.
  9. If you will drink water, you’ll be happier.
  10. He will go to the store if you will buy the chips.

Exercise 3

Circle the correct answer to fill in the blank. Find the correct verb form to create the first conditional.

  1. When I go to the store, I ______ a tub of ice cream. (get or will get)
  2. Unless she tells the truth, she _______ ridiculed. (will get or gets)
  3. As soon as I visit the doctor, I ______ my answer. (will get or get)
  4. I ________ you money in case the pizza arrives before I get home. (will leave or leave)
  5. I will give you money if you _______ the dishes. (will finish or finish)
  6. If I visit London, I ____ to the National Gallery. (will go/ go)
  7. She will lose her front tooth when she ________ the dentist (sees or will see)
  8. As soon as the snow ______, I will go skiing. (falls or will fall)
  9. I will visit my aunt as soon as I _____ new boots. (buy or will be able to buy)
  10. You ________ the truth when you ______ the gold. (will know/find or know/ find)

Conditional Sentences Type 1 | Image

The First Conditional

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