The first conditional in English Grammar

There are five conditional clauses or IF Clauses in English Grammar.

The second one is called the First Conditional

The First Conditional clause tells us about something that is REAL, and in the FUTURE

The Structure for this clause is: IF/WHEN + Future Simple/Future Intention + Present Simple.

e.g. If it rains, you will get wet.

If it rains – Present Simple. You will get wet – Future Simple

  • When I win the lottery, I will buy a Ferrari.
  • If you don’t have breakfast in the morning, you are going to be hungry and grumpy all day
  • What job are you going to do when you finish university?

Notice that for this conditional, we can use WHEN or IF. This is because we use IF if the sentence has some doubt or is perhaps 50/50. If can also make the sentence a little softer when we speak.

WHEN, on the other hand we use when there is a more definite situation, If it a FACT. WE use it when the sentence is more 100% and there is no doubt.

So for the structure of the positive sentence is: When/IF + subject + future tense, subject + present simple.

Here are some more examples:

  • When the body is cold, you will start to shiver
  • Your body will start to shiver when it is cold
  • I am going to feel really silly, when I forget to bring my homework

Remember for the negative sentences, we use Won't + Verb Infinitive.

As an example:

  • When I go to bed early, it is certain I won't get up late
  • If I don't go to bed early, I won't get up early.
  • When she doesn't listen to the instructions, she won't know what to do.

For questions, the structure is Wh Question + do/does (don't/doesn't) + subject + verb infinitive, if/when + subject + Present Simple.

For example:

  • Where do you like to go, when you are doing go on holiday.
  • What are you going to eat, when you go to the restaurant
  • Why will you do that, when it doesn't make the situation better?
  • If it doesn't make the situation better, why will you do it?
  • When you go on holiday, where will you prefer to go?

Hope this has made things a little clearer for you. If you have any questions, then please let me know!