Freedom lover’s guide to the first conditional

As you may already know, a conditional sentence is made by 2 parts:

  • 1. The if part
  • 2. The other part.

In many grammar textbooks they tell you that to form the 1st conditional you use the following structure:

           If part                 other part

If + present simple       will + infinitive

‘If it rains, I will take my umbrella’

but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, it is actually possible to use many different tenses in both parts of the conditional sentence:


The if part

Present continuous:

Future plans:

‘If you are meeting John at the station later, I will give you a lift’

Present continuous for things happening now:

‘If you are feeling ill, I will take you to the doctor’

Present perfect:

‘If you have not already handed in your project, you will need to hand it in before Friday’

Present perfect continuous:

‘If you have been worrying about the situation, you will be pleased to know that the problem is now solved’


The other part

will be + ___ing form:

‘If we win the game, we will be celebrating into the night’

will have:

‘If you have been reading the newspapers closely this month, you will have seen that there is an important election taking place in the USA.’

Modal verbs: Can / should / must

‘If you are feeling ill, you should visit a doctor’

‘If you are feeling ill, I can give you some medicine’

‘If you are feeling ill, you must tell me and I will call a doctor’

Modal verbs to talk about possibility:

With some sentences, even if the if part happens, it does not mean that the second part of the sentence will happen, for example:


‘If we score a goal we will win the game’ 

(if we score a goal we will 100% win the game)


‘If we score a goal we should win the game’

(If we score a goal it is very likely we will win the game)

may / might / could

‘If we score a goal we might win the game’

(If we score a goal it is possible we will win the game)

If you are confident with using English tenses, you can use any tense that you would use in a normal sentence, just don’t use will with if.

Also, now we have looked at the first conditional, check out how to use unreal conditionals here!

If you would like to have any of these words explained further, or if you would like to see some more examples, feel free to email me at [email protected], or message me on Skype at live:fluencyspace!


 David Cox

 Fluency Space

 Make the world your fluency space. Business English for career and life success

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