First Conditional

Syntax

Conditional sentences are sentences which have two parts: the if-clause which expresses the condition, and a clause which expresses the consequence of that condition.

We use the First Conditional structure to talk about future conditions and consequences or to talk about something that is certain to happen.

In First Conditional we use the Present Simple for the if part of the sentence (although we are talking about a future condition) and the Future Simple for the consequence part of the sentence.

If

The First Conditional clause uses if to talk about future conditions and consequences. The order of the sentences doesn’t change the meaning, therefore there are two ways of forming this expression:

IF-CLAUSE (condition) COMMA (,) MAIN CLAUSE (consequence)
If + Present Simple , Simple Future

or

MAIN CLAUSE (consequence) IF-CLAUSE (condition)
Simple Future if + Present Simple

When

The First Conditional clause uses when to talk about things which are certain to happen. This sentence with when does not express condition. The order of the sentences doesn’t change the meaning, therefore there are two ways of forming this expression:

F-CLAUSE (condition) COMMA (,) MAIN CLAUSE (consequence)
When + Present Simple , Simple Future

or

MAIN CLAUSE (consequence) IF-CLAUSE (condition)
Simple Future when + Present Simple
  1. If
    •  If you are optimistic, you will be happier in your life.
    • I will love you back if you love me.
  2. When
    •  When he comes, I will hug him.
    • I will change my password when I go home.

We use the First Conditional to talk about things that are possible in the future.

  1. If
    • We use if to express condition and consequence in the future;
    • If is used when we want to say that the condition might happen.
  2. When
    • We use when to talk about things that are certain to happen and we don’t express condition;
    • When is used when we want to say that the thing will definitely happen, we just describe when.

We use a First Conditional when the result of the condition is not certain but very likely to happen in the future. The First Conditional is also used to talk about things that are bound to happen in the future.

A conditional sentence is usually composed of two parts: the “if-clause” (or conditional clause) that expresses the condition, and the “main clause” that expresses the consequence of that condition.

These are the possible structures:

  • Subject + Future Simple + If/When* + subject + Present Simple;
  • If/When* + subject + Present Simple + subject + Future Simple.

*If = The condition might happen immediately.
*When = will definitely happen in the future.

For example:
— “I will go to the supermarket if you tell me what to buy.” = The first part of the sentence is the result of the condition expressed in the second sentence.
— “If you tell me what to buy, I will go to the supermarket.” = The first part of the sentence is the condition that brings about the result expressed in the second sentence.

— “I’ll eat my dinner when I get home” = The first part of the sentence describes the action that will take place at the point in time described by the second part of the sentence.
— “When I get home, I’ll eat my dinner” = The first part of the sentence shows the point in time when the second part will definitely happen.

Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.