Unit 4.1



Zero Conditional

Syntax

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Introduction

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.

We use the zero conditional structure when the result of the condition is always true.

Form

In zero conditional we use the present simple for both parts of the sentence, the if-clause and the main clause. In the if-clause we use if or when and there is no change in meaning, as the consequence of the condition is always the same.

We use the present simple in the if-clause and in the main clause.

The order of the sentences doesn’t change the meaning, therefore there are two ways of forming these expressions:

If-clause (condition) (,) Main Clause (consequence)
If/When + Present Simple , Present Simple

or

Main Clause (consequence) If-Clause (condition)
Present Simple If/When + Present Simple

NOTE: If the sentence starts with the if clause we use (,) before the main clause.

Example

If

  • If water reaches 100 degrees, it always boils.
  • Water always boils if it reaches 100 degrees.

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.

Use

We use zero conditional to express 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.

Summary

A conditional sentence is composed of two parts: the if-clause (condition), and the main clause (consequence of the condition).

The zero conditional is used to express facts and things that always happen, such as scientific facts, and when the result of a condition is always true.

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

The structure is:

We start with the words if or when followed by a present simple clause, a comma and another present simple clause. We can also start with a present simple clause followed by the words if or when and another present simple clause (we don’t use a comma here).

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

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

Exercises


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