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What Are Conditional Sentences? (with Examples)

What Are Conditional Sentences? (with Examples)

Conditional sentences (also known as conditional clauses or if clauses) are made up of two halves. One half (the half with the word if in) is a condition, and the other half (the main clause) states the action to occur if the condition is fulfilled.

The Types of Conditional Sentence

There are three types of conditional sentence:

Conditional Sentence Type 1

Type 1 sentences are used when it is likely that the condition will be fulfilled. It is formed like this:

"if" + [Simple Present], "will" + [Verb]

Examples of Conditional Sentence Type 1


  • If you swallow some of the cleaning fluid, it will kill you.
  • If I get a little humility, I will be perfect.

Conditional Sentence Type 2

Type 2 sentences are used when it is unlikely that the condition will be fulfilled. It is formed like this:

"if" +[Simple Past], "would" + [Verb]

Examples of Conditional Sentence Type 2


  • If you swallowed some of the cleaning fluid, it would kill you.
  • If I had a little humility, I would be perfect.

Conditional Sentence Type 3

Type 3 sentences are used when it is impossible for condition to be fulfilled because the possibility has already passed. It is formed like this:

"if" + [Past Perfect], "would have" + [Past Participle]

Examples of Conditional Sentence Type 3


  • If you had swallowed some of the cleaning fluid, it would have killed you.
  • If I had had a little humility, I would have been perfect.

Using Commas in Conditional Sentences

When the condition is at the start of the sentence (like in all the examples above), it is usual to separate it from the main clause with a comma. However, if the condition is at the back of the sentence, it is less common to use a comma. (You can still use a comma to assist your reader if you think it aids understanding.)
  • It will kill you if you swallow some of the cleaning fluid.
  • I would have been perfect if I had had a little humility.

Forming Conditional Sentences (Graphical Summary)

Here is a graphical summary of the three types of conditional sentence:



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