Zero 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 Zero Conditional structure when the result of the condition is always true.

In Zero Conditional we use the Present Simple for both parts of the sentence. We can use if or when and there is no change in meaning, as the consequence of the condition is always the same.

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/When + Present Simple , Present Simple

or

MAIN CLAUSE (consequence) IF-CLAUSE (condition)
Present Simple If/When + Present Simple
  1. If
    • If water reaches 100 degrees, it always boils.
    • Water always boils if it reaches 100 degrees.
  2. When
    • When people don’t drink water for a long time, they die.
    • People die when they don’t drink water for a long time.

We use Zero Conditional to talk about facts and things that always happen, such as scientific facts. The result of the condition is certain.

  1. If is used when we want to say that the condition will happen immediately;
  2. When is used when we want to say that the condition will definitely happen sooner or later.

We use a Zero Conditional when the result of a condition is always true. The Zero Conditional is also used to talk about facts and things that always happen, such as scientific facts.

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. Both parts are in Present Simple tense.

These are the possible structures:

  • If*/When + Present Simple + comma (,) + Present Simple;
  • Present Simple + comma (,) + If/When* + Present Simple.

*If = The condition will happen immediately.
*When = Will definitely happen sooner or later.

For example:
— “I 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 go to the supermarket.” = The first part of the sentence is the condition that brings about the result expressed in the second sentence.

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