Pregunta a cualquier estudiante de inglés ¿qué les parece el tema de gramática que da más miedo, y sin duda te van a contestar que es el condicional.
Pero ¡no es cierto! Sigue estos pasos sencillos y aprenderás a elegir la forma correcta siempre.
Para ir directamente al grano, hay 4 construcciones diferentes de la condicional, y la diferencia esencial entre ellas se resume por “¿qué es la probabilidad que pase la cláusula del resultado, y en qué tiempo estamos hablando? También es posible mezclar las construcciones en ele caso de que la condición y el resultado sean en tiempos diferentes, como vamos a ver dentro de nada…
Importante: recuerda que las cláusulas de condición (if…) y de resultado (then…) pueden aparecer en cualquier orden.
|Zero Conditional||If/when present tense then present tense||
General truths and rules
If you heat ice then it melts.
Everything gets wet when it rains.
|First Conditional||If present tense then future tense (will/going to/can/must)||Future events which are very likely/certain
If I see him I will tell him the news.
If you finish your homework, you can go out tonight!
|Second Conditional||If past simple then (subject) would + infinitive (without “to”)||Hypothetical/imaginary scenarios in the present or future: the condition is unlikely or untrue
I would be so happy if we were on a beach right now! (We are not on a beach, and therefore I am not so happy)
If I went to China again, I would visit the south. (I don’t know if I will go back to China)Note: If I were to go to china again is also correct.
Common construction: If I were you, I would…
|Third Conditional||If past perfect then (subject) would have + past participle||Imaginary events in the past: the result is now impossible. It is often, therefore, used to express regret.
If I had won the lottery, I would have bought a car. (I didn’t win, and didn’t buy the car)
If I had realised it was going to rain then I’d have brought an umbrella. (I didn’t realise and didn’t bring an umbrella – and now regret it!)
|Mixed Conditionals||1) If past perfect then present/future
2) If past simple then (subject) would have + past participle
3) If past continuous then (subject) would + infinitive (without “to”)
4) If past continuous then (subject) would have + past participle
|Conditions in the past with hypothetical results in the present, e.g. If I had eaten that I would be ill! (but I didn’t eat it, and I’m OK.)
Present conditions with hypothetical results in the past, e.g. If I spoke German I would have translated for you (but I don’t speak German, so I didn’t translate.)
Future conditions with hypothetical results in the present, e.g. If I was going on holiday tomorrow I would be excited. (But I’m not going on holiday, and am not excited.)
Future conditions with hypothetical results in the past, e.g. If I was going on holiday tomorrow then I would have bought suncream. (But I am not going on holiday, so I did not buy suncream.)
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